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History and Purpose

The Interreligious Council of San Antonio was founded in October, 1996 to bring together people of different religions to share information about the similarities and differences among their respective traditions, to build mutual respect and understanding among religious communities in San Antonio, and to explore other ways in which Council members, working together, can make a positive impact upon San Antonio.

The Council works together to foster awareness of religious diversity and to promote interreligious understanding in San Antonio.

The Council acts as a catalyst for interreligious understanding by:

  • sponsoring interreligious programs and events
  • providing speakers from various religions
  • studying issues such as the separation of religion and state as it pertains to current legislation
  • learning about the causes of interreligious conflict so as to work toward interreligious understanding and harmony
  • partnering with groups such as the peaceCENTER, SOL Center, the San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coalition, and Habitat for Humanity to support interreligious projects and programs

The Council works together to foster interreligious understanding and cooperation by educating Council members through:

  • visits to places of worship or meditation
  • presentations by Council members
  • study of books on issues such as peace and violence in the world religions
  • attending and supporting  events and functions of religious communities

We act as a catalyst for interreligious understanding by:

  • informing council members about issues and problems concerning religious communities
  • supporting religious groups experiencing injustice through letters, press releases,  and representation at public meetings
  • supporting interreligious events held by other groups
  • studying issues such as the separation of religion and state as it pertains to current legislation
  • learning about the causes of interreligious conflict so as to work toward interreligious understanding and harmony

The Council issues resolutions, letters, and press releases such as:

  • Statement about the recent words of Pope Benedict at Regensburg
  • Letter protesting the decision of the State Department to revoke the visa granted to the noted scholar Professor Tariq Ramadan, who was to teach at Notre Dame University.
  • Resolution against the use of Native Americans and Native American symbols as sports mascots
  • Resolution condemning incidents of arson against Muslim merchants in San Antonio
  • Letter in support of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act

We have had open Council meetings with guest speakers on issues such as the new religious diversity in the U.S., terrorism in the name of religion, religious discrimination, poverty, violence, peaceful resolution of conflict.

The Council provides citywide programs such as:

  • Religious Diversity: Challenge and Promise, a lecture by Diana L. Eck, professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University
  • The Sounds of Prayer: Expressions of Multicultural Spirituality, a multireligious event of song, chant, and dance expressing the religious practices of various religions
  • Discovering the Sacred with Children, a multireligous panel presentation and workshop on children and religion
  • A Multicultural Workshop on cross cultural skills essential for creative community within our culturally and religiously diverse city.

The Council holds meetings, open to the community, such as:

  • “Experiencing the Hajj” The personal experiences of Iman Omar Shakir and Sarwat Husain during the Hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) May 8, 2006
  • “Religion and Art: Expressions in the Religions of the World” Diana Roberts March 13, 2006
  • “Interreligious Marriage: Challenges and Benefits” A Panel of couples of mixed religions discussed the challenges and benefits of their interreligious marriages. October 10, 2005
  • “Mediating Religious Differences through Fostering Interreligious Communication” Rosalyn Collier
  • “Religious and Ethnic Violence from a Psychiatric Perspective”
    Dr. Stephen Shanfield: May 3, 1999
  • “Conflict Resolution Using Insights from Gandhi from the Perspective of an Attorney/Mediator” Mr. Rafael Aldave: December 6, 1999
  • “Violence: Poverty and Capital Punishment from a Sociological Perspective”
    Professor Roger Barnes : March 6, 2000
  • “The Nature of Terrorism”
    Dr. Ken Southwood: November 12, 2001

We have done council wide studies of the following books:

  • Understanding Religion in a Global Society
    by Kent E. Richter, et al. Published by Thomson Wadsworth, 2006
  • A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Now Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation
    by Diana L. Eck Published by Harper San Francisco, 2001
  • When Religion Becomes Evil
    by Charles Kimball Published by HarperCollins, 2002
  • The Multicultural Riddle: Rethinking National, Ethnic, and Religious Identities
    by Gerd Baumann Published by Routledge, 1999
  • Subverting Hatred: The Challenge of Nonviolence in Religious Traditions
    Edited by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher Published by The Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, 1998
  • Equal Treatment of Religion in a Pluralistic Society
    Edited by Stephen V. Monsma and J. Christopher Soper Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998