Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Media Components

R&E videos connected to segments listed below.

Computer Resources

  • computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector and projection screen

Print Resources

Idliby, Ranya, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. THE FAITH CLUB: A MUSLIM, A CHRISTIAN, A JEW — THREE WOMEN SEARCH FOR UNDERSTANDING. New York: Free Press, 2006.

Matlins, Stuart M. and Arthur J. Magida, eds. HOW TO BE A PERFECT STRANGER: THE ESSENTIAL RELIGIOUS ETIQUETTE HANDBOOK. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2003.


R&E NEWSWEEKLY 2003 VIEWER’S GUIDE. “Interfaith America.” Pgs. 4-8.
(This essay includes an extensive list of additional readings and resources, as well as discussion questions.)


Media Resources

Faith Library
Modern Paths Home Theater

  • “The Interfaith Movement”
    The Very Reverend James Parks Morton discusses the mission of the Interfaith Movement — building community and understanding among religions.
  • “The Birth of the Interfaith Movement”
    In this video excerpt, actor Michael Moriarity details a brief history of the interfaith movement and its connection to the Dalai Lama.
  • “Interfaith Dialogue”
    In this video segment, Rabbi A. James Rudin tells how interfaith dialogue can strengthen one’s own faith.

Documentary by the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership’s president Rabbi Brad Hirschfield that captures the efforts of members of various faiths to better understand each other and break down fears of each other’s traditions.

*WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? Sarah Feinbloom
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? promotes tolerance and understanding among American teenagers from different religious and spiritual backgrounds. Two hundred teenagers were interviewed for this project, and their beliefs and experiences are incorporated in a unique 49-minute educational documentary. An instructor’s guide available on the Web site offers lesson plans and related dialogue/community-building activities.

Web Resources

(These sites include many links to other resources and lists of additional recommended readings.)

    “Catholic Church and Islam”
    September 22, 2006
    In his controversial 2006 academic lecture at Germany’s University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI quoted dialogue between 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus and a Persian scholar regarding the concept of holy war. According to the passage, Emperor Manuel questioned the teachings of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The pope’s reference to the quote unleashed outrage and frustration across the Muslim world. The pope apologized, and in November 2007 he responded to an open letter from Muslim scholars requesting more interfaith dialogue with an invitation to the Vatican. David Gibson, author, THE RULE OF BENEDICT and Genieve Abdo, liaison for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and author of MECCA AND MAIN STREET, talk about initial reactions to the pope’s remarks and what can be done to improve relations between the two faiths.

    “Children of Abraham”
    October 4, 2002
    Jewish, Islamic, and Christian scholars are examining their common and different understanding of the legacy of Abraham, hoping that discussion will help bring Middle East peace. But a central problem turns out to be religious claims to the land of Israel: Jews say it is theirs because God promised it to them, through Abraham; Muslims say they are entitled to it because they are the more faithful.

    “Christian-Muslim Relations”
    May 9, 2003
    In Washington, a group of American evangelical leaders publicly criticized anti-Islamic statements made by prominent members of their own movement — among them evangelist Franklin Graham, who called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.” At a subsequent meeting, co-sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals, participants said such remarks endanger missionaries and Christian minorities in Muslim countries. The group proposed guidelines for Christians interacting with Muslims.

    “Response to the Guidelines for Christian-Muslim Dialogue”
    May 9, 2003
    Features responses of some religion scholars to the guidelines for Christian-Muslim dialogue proposed on May 7, 2003 in Washington, D.C. at a meeting convened by evangelical leaders of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and the National Association of Evangelicals.

    “Daughters of Abraham Book Club”
    September 29, 2006
    In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women gather together once a month to talk about the books they’ve read — not the latest best-sellers, but works that focus on the Abrahamic faiths. The group seeks to foster a better understanding of the commonalties and differences found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the aftermath of 9/11.

    “Diana Eck”
    June 22, 2001
    The U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 opened up America to millions of new immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Today, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others are contributing to the dramatic increase in the variety of America’s religious experience. Dr. Diana Eck of Harvard University talks about the nation’s expanding religious diversity and how important it is for people to learn about other faiths. (See also accompanying segment at

    “Eboo Patel”
    April 13, 2007
    Dr. Eboo Patel is a dynamic young Muslim and former Rhodes scholar. His organization is Interfaith Youth Core, which is now active on more than 100 college campuses across the United States, with members involved in tutoring, caring for refugees, and other service projects. The group’s goal is to mobilize a new generation of leaders — religiously inspired activists — to change the conversation from one of interreligious conflict to cooperation among people of different faiths. (Also refer to the interview with Patel

    “Faith Community Convergence”
    September 28, 2001
    In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the nation, one of the significant ways Americans reacted was by turning to interfaith worship for comfort and guidance. Gathering in stadiums, on college campuses, and in churches across America, people of many faiths prayed. This segment reports on this unprecedented interfaith activity as various religious groups focused on unity rather than their differences.

    “Gary Laderman”
    April 26, 2002
    In connection with an R&E story about a situation in Georgia that tested interfaith relations between Muslims and Christians, this extended interview with Gary Laderman, Emory University religion professor, addresses topics that include pluralism and diversity.

    “Interfaith Gathering at Auschwitz”
    May 22, 1998
    Around the world, religious leaders are increasingly discussing how faith can be a force not only for peace but also for violence. This segment reports on a 1998 international symposium on the topic, held at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland.

    “Interfaith Magic Show”
    January 19, 2001
    By vocation, Father Jerry Jecewiz is a Catholic priest in Brooklyn. By avocation, he’s an artist of illusion; he raises money for his parish’s school by performing magic with a message. Recently, after years of levitating his assistants and making animals disappear, Father Jerry put a new spin on the old pulling-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick. With help from Rabbi Akiva Glickman, Jecewiz performed his first interfaith magic show.

    “Interfaith Relations: Beyond War with Iraq”
    March 21, 2003
    This segment features Akbar Ahmed of American University; Dianne Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy; and Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation, who talk about the impact the war with Iraq will have on interfaith relations.

    “Letter from Assisi: The Pope and the Saint”
    June 22, 2007
    A look at Pope Benedict XVI’s first official visit to Assisi, which has an interesting history associated in part with a peace summit convened there in 1986 by John Paul II, as well as with the controversial St. Francis.

    “The Pope and Interfaith Relations”
    Discussion about Pope John Paul II’s efforts to lead the Catholic Church a long way in interfaith relations.

    “Pope John Paul II’s Interreligious Dialogue”
    January 25, 2002
    This segment reports on the 2002 gathering of the world’s religious leaders in Assisi for a peace pilgrimage led by Pope John Paul II. It includes a look at the meeting’s results, as well as the implications of a Vatican document by theologian Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become the next pope after John Paul II’s death, about Jewish/Christian relations.

    “Religion on Campus”
    November 9, 2007
    At Brown University, there is an interfaith dorm to foster dialogue, as well as other opportunities for students from very different religious traditions to interact.

    “Resources: Begin a Dialogue”
    R&E resource that provides strategies for planning and conducting a discussion on topics associated with faith and belief systems.

    “Scriptural Reasoning”
    October 12, 2007
    Ever since 9/11, Christians and Jews all over the United States have tried to better understand Muslims, searching for common ground in spite of theological differences. Some scholars are now favoring an interfaith dialogue that emphasizes neither differences nor common ground, but rather the study of each tradition’s sacred texts — known as Scriptural Reasoning.

    “Seeds of Peace”
    August 22, 2003
    This program takes a look at Seeds of Peace, which has been bringing together young Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs for the past 10 years in an effort to promote better understanding. The program teaches teamwork and trust to young people who once looked upon each other as enemies.


    Explores and supports diversity in the United States through community conversations about cultural identity and pluralism.

    Genesis: A Living Conversation
    In this 10-part series, Bill Moyers brings together biblical scholars, writers, artists, psychotherapists, teachers, scientists, composers, lawyers, college presidents, journalists, members of the clergy, and translators to discover what the Genesis stories say to us today.

    Many Voices Project
    As part of this documentary about a United Methodist church in Philadelphia, the Many Voices project takes a broad look at the key issues defining congregational life in America. This segment of the project focuses on the value and challenges of interfaith dialogue.

    “Our Religion, Our Neighbors, Our Selves”
    Interview with Diana Eck, director of the Pluralism Project, addressing, in part, issues associated with a multireligious society and interfaith dialogue.

    *Online NEWSHOUR
    “In the Name of Islam”
    Noteworthy Muslims address interfaith dialogue.

    A film that offers insight into the Middle East conflict when filmmaker B. Z. Goldberg returns to his hometown to see what seven children — Palestinian and Israeli — think about war, peace, and just growing up. Through candid interviews, the film explores a legacy of distrust and bitterness, but signs of hope emerge when some of the children dare to cross the checkpoints to meet one another.


  • Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL)/CrossCurrents
    Global network of people from various religious traditions who share a commitment to bringing into closer relationship the passions of the heart and the life of the mind.

    “Mending a House with Faith” by Bradley Olson, July 29, 2007
    A great deal of interfaith dialogue and work goes on during local hands-on service projects and joint activities, such as this Habitat for Humanity renovation project undertaken by Christians, Jews, and Muslims in East Baltimore.

    Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
    International organization focused on interfaith dialogue and peace.

    Institute for Interreligious Intercultural Dialogue
    Organization that promotes dialogue among individuals and groups of different religions and cultures, focusing especially though not exclusively on the “opinion-shapers” of society, e.g., scholars, professionals, and institutional and business leaders.

    *The Institute of Interfaith Dialogue
    Organization that helps to bring together communities to promote compassion, cooperation, partnership, and community service through interfaith dialogue and conversation.

    *Interfaith Youth Core
    Builds mutual respect and pluralism among young people from different religious traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others.

    “High School Seniors Open Interfaith Dialogue” by Marc Tracy, Aug 11, 2006
    Article about Jewish and Muslim students who come together to learn about each other’s faiths.

    *National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
    Organization with an array of resources, programs, and networking opportunities that foster conversation, participation, and action as a way to involve groups in solving societal problems.

    “Bread Is Broken While Interfaith Bonds Are Built” by Gretel C. Kovach, November 17, 2007
    Article on one Amazing Faiths Project Dinner Dialogue, a series of small gatherings in private homes intended to foster tolerance and understanding of religious differences.

    North American Interfaith Network
    Builds communication among more than 60 interfaith groups and has links to selected interfaith Web sites.

    *Presbyterian Church USA
    Tools for Understanding
    Resources to jump-start interfaith engagement, or bridge-building among/between faith communities.

    The Pluralism Project

    *Religious Tolerance
    Examples of Interfaith Projects
    Strategies for and examples of activities that promote interfaith dialogue.

    Temple of Understanding
    Seeks to achieve peaceful coexistence among individuals, communities, and societies through interfaith education.

    United Religions Initiative
    Works for peace and justice through global interfaith cooperation.

    *United States Institute of Peace
    “What Works? Evaluating Interfaith Dialogue Programs”
    Document that examines interfaith dialogue and programs that nurture such engagement. Provides a summary of elements that make for effective programs.



Teacher Preparation

Preview the lesson plan’s R&E videos and related online content before presenting them to your class. Bookmark relevant Web sites on each computer in your classroom, and/or create a handout that lists recommended sites and resources that supplement the lesson; or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility, such as, so that students can access the information on these sites. Make sure that your computer has the necessary media players, like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, to show streaming clips (if applicable).


Introductory Activity: Understanding Interfaith Dialogue
(one or two class periods)

Post this question in the classroom:
“Can people from different backgrounds live together in mutual peace and loyalty?” (Eboo Patel asks this question in his R&E profile.)

Have students reflect on the question for a few minutes; invite them to offer their responses, encouraging them to share reasons/examples to show why such a situation might or might not occur. Ask them to examine their school or community: how do different people coexist?

Ask students to explain what “interfaith dialogue” means. Provide a definition/example. Ask students to describe the role such dialogue might have in bringing together people from different backgrounds. Probe with students whether they have ever participated in an interfaith dialogue or a similar type of interaction. If they have, ask them to describe how this interaction occurred: what tools were used? For example, some such efforts use community service projects to bring different groups together or establish book clubs with members of diverse faiths in which they share and discuss perspectives.

Show students the R&E Eboo Patel segment. Ask students all or some of the following discussion questions:

  • What is Eboo Patel’s stance on interfaith dialogue?
  • Why does he view such dialogue as important?
  • Why does he believe that interfaith dialogue will help to bring people together?
  • Why does Patel engage young people in interfaith dialogue and what tools does he use to promote this dialogue among them?
  • How does Patel define pluralism?
  • Why, if there are more pluralists in the world than “religious totalitarians,” is interfaith dialogue a challenge to achieve? In this regard, what are the odds Patel faces?
  • Do you agree with Patel that it “may take as long as 40 or 50 years to build a student interfaith movement to the point where it is a significant social force”? Explain.
  • Is it possible to engage your peers in the school and/or community in interfaith dialogue in a fashion that might propel Patel’s goal? Describe how this might occur. Or, describe how interfaith dialogue is already occurring in your school and/or community. Note the tools that are being used to promote this dialogue, and the challenges and successes that this discourse presents.

Have students revisit and list the tools that Patel uses to promote interfaith dialogue. Ask students to discuss whether these might be universal tools — ones that can be used to support interfaith dialogue regardless of the people and issues involved. Are they modifiable? Do the tools need to change for each different situation? What situations would call for a different set of tools?

Activity 1: Interfaith Dialogue: An Analysis
(two to three class periods)

Divide students into small groups. Assign each group one or two of the following R&E broadcasts. If assigning two segments, please do them as coupled below. (The class may analyze certain segments over a few classroom periods.)

Distribute Elements of Interfaith Dialogue (one per segment to be viewed). Review the worksheet’s categories with students so they recognize what to watch for as they view the videos. Students may take notes during the videos and then refine their thoughts after viewing. Tell them to be particularly mindful of the specific interfaith dialogue tools the individuals in the segments use.

Upon completion of their worksheets, the groups should present their findings to the class. Synthesize student findings: have them come to consensus on what must be included in interfaith dialogue in order for it to be successful.

Activity 2: Interfaith Dialogue for Real
(one class period)

Present the R&E segment “Interfaith Relations: Beyond War with Iraq” as an interfaith dialogue model. Instruct students to analyze the interaction among the three speakers to determine whether the dialogue includes the elements they noted in Activity 1, as well as to observe how each person interacts with and responds to the others. What seems to work in this discourse? What could be problematic? What does this discourse suggest about interfaith dialogue in terms of benefits and challenges?

Culminating Activity: Interfaith Dialogue: Making It Happen
(at least three class periods; additional time if implementation occurs)

Working in triads, students build on their knowledge of interfaith dialogue’s role, approaches, and tools to design their approach and/or tool to use in their school or community, perhaps via a religious setting or faith- or community-based organization.

To guide their designs, redirect students to the various R&E segments to revisit various interfaith venues and tools. Also direct students to the resources marked with an asterisk in the print, media, and Web resources listed earlier in the lesson plan. These offer strategies for creating interfaith dialogue and highlight successful programs.

Students design and present their plans to the class, which then draws from the plans to create one tool that incorporates each group’s best strategies. If desired, the students can put the plan into action and then assess its impact.

Extension Activities

Students can:

  • Research and create a directory of organizations in their immediate community, region, or state that run interfaith programs or offer related tools. Students describe the programs, highlighting successful efforts.
  • Participate in a local interfaith dialogue event or service project to observe and take notes on the interaction among the various participants. Students assess the program’s approach and impact. They write letters to the sponsoring organization that reflect their views about the event, as well as offer ideas for enriching similar future efforts.