The Religious Neighborhood Partners Around Hamline University: A Study of Interfaith Collaboration

Miranda D. Chimzar


With rapid advancements in communication and travel, one’s neighbor is not only the person next door, but those around the globe. People are meeting others different than themselves every day. Diana Eck, a Harvard University professor of religion, created the Pluralism Project to map out the diverse religious landscape of the United States and document those engaging positively with other religions.  Theologians, like Eck, have identified typologies for classifying these interactions.  The most commonly used typology separates people into three categories:  Exclusivists, Inclusivists, and Pluralists.  Exclusivists believe their religion hold the truth and other religions offer no benefit to them.  Inclusivists see merit in other traditions, but view their religion as superior.  Pluralists see equal value in all religions.  Though these categories appear neat on paper, the on-the-ground reality of applying them tends to be messier.  Using the Pluralism Project as a basis, this study focuses on the neighboring places of worship to Hamline University to provide a sample of the reality of interfaith interactions.  Through interviews with the leaders of local religious organizations the on-the-ground realities were documented.  The interviews focused on three questions.  The first question looks at the messiness encountered during interfaith collaboration, what problems those in the field have come across within and outside of their congregations.  The second question analyzes their views of pluralism and interfaith, placing them into two categories:  pragmatic or doctrinal.  Those with pragmatic views approach interfaith collaboration based on the practices of each tradition.  While those with doctrinal views look at what writings within each tradition say about interfaith work, truth, and salvation.  Last, the effectiveness of the common typology used for classifying interfaith interactions was explored.  This study will show the recurring theme of dialogue in literature and on-the-ground, as well as illuminate the effect the raising population of religious nones is having on the places of worship in the Hamline-Midway community.  As more people are not identifying with organized religion these religious organizations have to change to remain open.  In a fluid reality, the typology used to describe interfaith interactions must be just as loose and ever changing.


Pluralism, Interfaith, Typology

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