Religion and Civics Project

Welcome to a unique program to support your efforts to be a religious leader who can promote civil discourse and democracy in an America that is increasingly polarized by identities—religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual identity, language—and by political views. Central to many of these debates is what religious freedom should look like in this decade of the 21st century. So much of this is new even if rooted in old and even ancient debates.

At this juncture, the market for violent rhetoric and hostile political engagement seems to drive us further apart and silence so many of us who would seek alternative ways of coming together to address all that separates us. We need healers and we turn to religious leaders to once again play that role, to fulfill the opening words of Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity!”

Our Five Topical Modules

We have constructed five modules of learning. You will be able to click on each module and it will bring you to the full set of materials including the interactive video:

Module 1: The Diminution of Civic Engagement In America. What Can Religious Leaders Do?

Module 2: A History of Faith and a Wall of Division in America

Module 3: Generative Dialogue Across Differences. What is Healthy Dialogue and Why Is It Necessary?

Module 4: The Rules: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the IRS and What You Can And Cannot Do As a Religious Leader and in Religious Institutions

Module 5: The Language of Faith To Address The World: Maintaining Religious and Civic Authenticity and Integrity

Each module includes a written introduction, a video with speakers, information about civic engagement and religion, strategies and techniques, interactive exercises and thoughts about how to enter the public square while staying authentic to your faith and acting with integrity. Our hope is that you will experience this with seminary or professional colleagues, friends and/or congregants.

There also is a FACILITATORS GUIDE for each session. You will see it on the right side of the page for each unit under SUPPORTING MATERIALS. If you are helping to lead the session for a group, we think that the facilitators guide for that unit will be very helpful. 

We are honored and grateful for all of the religious and academic leaders, theologians, and activists who participated in this project. You can find their names and bios here.


Project Sponsors and Participants

This project is directed byDavid M. Elcott, PhD, Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at NYU Wagner

Research team: Adam Cross, Katelyn Riconda, Carlos Rodriguez Lara 

Media team: Phil Falino and Ryan Porush

Voiceover Narration: Allan Peoples

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