Strategies and Tactics of Interfaith and Faith-based Social Justice Organizations
Tensions within Interfaith Social Justice Coalitions
Race and Class
Religious and Business Institutions
Connections to the Faith at Work Movement
Spirituality, Work, and Activism
Faith at Work, Faith at All Times
Application of Miller's Integration Box
Potential for Social Change
About the Author
In the United States, religious communities have traditionally been involved in social justice initiatives; they have also been instrumental in large-scale social movements. The relationship between faith and social justice is, in America, historical, extensive, and diverse. Faith communities have been involved in struggles including abolition (Interfaith Worker Justice, 2010, p. 34), labor rights (Higgins, 2010, p. 42), and women's and civil rights (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 233).
Interfaith social justice coalitions recognize that the "'enemy' of religious people should not be understood as the 'other'" but rather "the dehumanizing reality of poverty, backwardness, oppression, ignorance, and other destructive social problems." (Munjid, 2008, p. 111). As diverse groups, they expand the religious palette used to paint alternative visions of human interaction and social organization. Through direct service, dialogue, advocacy, and direct action, interfaith social justice coalitions work together to alleviate or eliminate the causes of social inequality.
Although they bring diverse groups together to achieve common goals, interfaith social justice coalitions are also fraught with internal tensions. Differences in religion, political ideology, race, and class can either divide or unite interfaith groups according to each coalition's ability to embrace diversity.
Like interfaith social justice coalitions, the faith at work movement calls for integration of religious beliefs and practices with intentions and actions - albeit in a different setting. Through cross-analysis of interfaith coalitions and the faith at work movement, each can be strengthened. Both offer great potential for personal and social change realized through human integration, enhanced relationships, understanding of interdependence, and transcendence.
Interfaith social justice coalitions are typically organized to address a social problem through advocacy and direct action. In addition, these coalitions also engage in intentional dialogue and sometimes provide direct service. Because there is little published research related to interfaith social justice organizations, some tactics used by single-based coalitions will also be included with the assumption that many activities would be similar in interfaith coalitions.
While there is a greater emphasis on advocacy and public education, some interfaith coalitions provide direct service to people in need. These services are sometimes, though not always, part of larger social change initiatives. Campbell (2002) investigated eight coalitions spurred by the federal faith-based initiatives program and found them to be ideologically and programmatically diverse (p. 221). Within the labor movement, interfaith coalitions have created 130 workers centers to provide information, support, and services to nonunionized workers. These centers also delve into advocacy by providing "safe places for workers to learn about their rights and join with others to improve conditions in their workplace" (Bobo, 2010, p. 171).
Through the process of collaboration and social justice work, interfaith coalition members engage in dialogue to gain deeper understanding and form stronger relationships. Each religious group brings with it different tenets, traditions, and culture; these differences are sorted out, understood, and leveraged through dialogue.
Dialogue may reveal that "different words or misunderstandings merely hid commonly shared positions" (Swidler, 2008, p. 17). Through this process, the coalition may create "a larger identity that makes room for the distinctiveness of different traditions while encompassing them around their shared, universal values." (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2008, p. 38). This does not necessarily negate the possibility for each individual religion to flourish within that larger community. Interfaith social justice coalition leaders can "weave the story of pluralism from the threads of distinct traditions" so that followers can "conceptualize the pluralist identity as a natural outgrowth of their subgroup identity" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2007, p. 237).
Particular religious group beliefs may serve an important functional purpose within the larger coalition. In her study of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Dugan (2007) found that the Buddhist belief of interdependence led their leader to be "a strong voice for cooperation between religious traditions" (p. 41). Indeed, many religious traditions encourage love and understanding of those who are different; these beliefs support interfaith collaboration.
Some feel that there is a "need to reach beyond one's own community to dialogue and connect with difference as essential to working on the complexity and conflict inherent in the communal struggle for structural change" (McIsaac Bruce, 2005, p. 222). There are several important differences that must be explored in order for interfaith work to be genuine and effective. The word justice "is defined differently by the world's religious traditions" (Cilliers, 2002, p. 51). When coalitions engage with secular organizations, including activism targets, additional communication obstacles may emerge. It can be "difficult to bridge differences between the words and symbols that religious groups use to communicate and the means used by the secular" (Kegler, Hall, and Kiser, 2010, p. 674).
Interfaith dialogue must be intentional and carefully executed. Without dialogue, there is a possibility for the group to "fall into traps created by the blind spots of unexamined cultural assumptions" (Wood, 2002, p. 156). This could lead the coalition to experience internal conflict and diminish the effectiveness of their work.
While dialogue serves an important purpose in interfaith social justice coalitions, it is just the beginning of their collaborative work. "Dialogue provides an additional path on which to accomplish social changes. It is a path that is full of positive and constructive joint energy and that is based on creativity and trust" (Abu-Nimer, 2002, p. 15).
Faith-based organizations have a long history of engagement in political advocacy in America (Bobo, 2010; Higgins, 2010; Interfaith Worker Justice, 2010; Putnam and Campbell, 2010). Faith-based groups and interfaith social justice coalitions utilize a different, more values-based, approach to legislative work. These groups "focus on forgiveness as essential in social policy;" (Magnani and Wray, 2006, p. 155) this possibility is largely absent from mainstream political rhetoric. Politicians, who often engage in tenuous debate and struggle to direct the allocation of scare resources, can also learn about conflict resolution practices from the religious community (Weiman, 2008, p. 93). Interfaith social justice coalitions, by nature of their diversity and inclusiveness, offer a particularly strong example of how divergent groups can peacefully resolve conflict in order to achieve common goals.
Direct action, which includes community organizing, protests, rallies, and demonstrations, serve as a means to solidify participants' commitment to the group and its purpose and to make progress toward realizing organization, coalition, and movement goals. Participating in direct action gives "participants a strong sense of collective accomplishment and that proactively respect particular religious identities" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2007, p. 240). It is a "dialogue of the hands" through which groups "join hands with "the other" to heal the world" (Swidler, 2008, p. 10).
Interfaith social justice coalitions bring a unique flavor to, and expand the repertoire of, Alinsky tradition organizing techniques by connecting the group's mission and activities with spirituality. These include "imagery (biblical references to the need for justice, the power of redemption, the sanctity of the individual)" and "spiritual practices (prayer vigils, personal witness)" (Bussel, 2003, p. 16). In Beverly Hills, clergy who participated in an interfaith march organized to support unionization of hotel workers "deposited bitter herbs outside the ...hotel [that did not sign the contract]...and offered milk and honey to the two hotels which had" (Reynolds, 2001, p. 38). These gestures symbolically integrate the Jewish and Christian traditions with social justice work to communicate a spiritual, but also pragmatic, message. In Miami, interfaith labor activists organized a public prayer in the middle of a street as well as a hunger strike for which members "brought oil for anointing, choirs for singing, and prayers for sustaining the hunger strikers" (Hawking, 2010, p. 184). These symbolic gestures imbue a sense of spiritual morality and imply support from the significant religious institutions being represented.
Involvement of religious groups in direct action can change the tenor of social justice work by reminding participants and activism targets of the fundamental goodness of humanity. They can bring a general sense of "compassion to the process" and convey "a moral seriousness to the discussion" by integrating "the language of justice, fairness, and equity" (Horwitz, 2010, p. 195). Involvement of diverse faith groups expands the availability of such language and demonstrates commitment to a process of understanding and inclusion in addition to the goals being sought by the coalition.
While interfaith social justice coalitions serve as a model for understanding, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence, there are many emergent tensions within these groups. Such tensions, if not examined and explored, can limit relationships, change the nature of group activities, or undermine coalition effectiveness.
Americans are divided in many ways, and religion is not an exception. The most significant and meaningful differences are not related to the specific faith or beliefs of particular individuals or groups. Rather, Americans are most divided by the strength of their beliefs (Putnam and Campbell, 2010) and the degree to which they are accepting of others who belong to a different religion (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2007).
American culture tends to be individualistic and pluralistic; that is harboring, "the conviction that people believing in different creeds and belonging to different communities need to learn to live together" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2008, p. 38). Yet, not all Americans share this conviction. "The most salient division lies between religious pluralists, who actively seek to build bridges of respect and cooperation across differing belief groups, and religious totalitarians, who actively seek to destroy those who believe differently" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2007, p. 233). Similarly, Americans are split according to devoutness. They are "increasingly concentrated at opposite ends of the religious spectrum - the highly religious at one pole, and the avowedly secular at the other." (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 3). In combination, there is an infinite range of difference in Americans' religious perspective before even considering their particular faith beliefs.
There are also significant differences within and among religions. Within Christianity, and perhaps other religions as well, there can be a sense of disconnection across congregations and among denominations that serve as a deterrent to working together (Kegler, Hall, and Kiser, 2010, p. 673). Those differences are even more pronounced when groups from different faith traditions, whose beliefs, traditions, customs, and symbols may seem strange or contradictory, attempt to collaborate.
Our individualistic culture can also support the exclusion or suppression of religious interchange, often as a means to prevent or resolve conflict. "It is commonly understood that if you want calm, even-tempered conversations between groups, especially if they are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, you should avoid bringing up the topic of religion (Cilliers, 2002, p. 47). While interfaith social justice coalitions are operating within this larger cultural context, they do not typically employ this strategy as they are comprised of faith-based organizations. More often, they either encourage "participants to speak strongly from their own traditions" or "ask all participants to pray in neutral terms that seek to avoid any language that is not acceptable in other traditions" with the goal of "broadening this work while sustaining the flow of commitment and motivation that underlie its dynamism" (Wood, 2002, p. 40).
Differences in religion can be complementary, analogous, or contradictory (Swidler, 2008, p. 13-14). Bringing together religiously diverse groups can increase understanding and compassion; it can also be a challenging process that unearths unintended consequences - even when those groups are fully committed to a common purpose. Interaction can "provoke intolerance of the religious narrative of others" and stir up "stereotypes and prejudices against one's own group" (Smock, 2002, p. 127). Great sensitivity is needed to navigate the multiple dynamics of religious differences within interfaith social justice coalitions or any religiously diverse group.
Bringing together diverse groups also has the potential to amplify the impact of the movement. "Leaders of different traditions, worldviews, and patterns of belief are invited to confront common problems that no one religious community can solve, or even meaningfully address, on its own" (Smock, p. 5). Collectively, interfaith coalitions offer a spectrum of understanding, strategies, and solutions not found in isolated faith-based social justice organizations. Interfaith coalitions, by increasing contact and creating bridges among distinct religious groups working toward a common goal, can help to reduce prejudice and improve the way our society functions (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 527).
American society is also divided along race and class lines. Interfaith social justice coalitions both mitigate those conditions through advocacy and replicate our larger society's class structure.
While individual congregations are often segregated by race or class (Bobo, 2010, p. 174); interfaith coalitions can "enroll a mix of congregations that together represent diverse ethnic constituencies" (McCarthy and Walker, 2005, p. 103S). Because of coalitions' diversity, the issues addressed and tactics used may be compromised. Thus, coalitions will often pursue interests "around which broad consensus among member congregants can be mobilized" (McCarthy and Walker, p. 103S).
When coalitions reach out to include secular organizations as well as religious groups, the group's diversity may expand in terms of "race, ethnicity, economic status, class, gender, educational background, and religion" (Albright, 2008, p. 72). Many interfaith social justice coalitions have successfully brought people from diverse race and class backgrounds together to work toward a common goal. The spiritual foundation of interfaith coalitions can help them effectively "empower poor and disadvantaged communities...in such a way as to avoid the racial and ethnic divisions that plagued earlier community organizing efforts" (McCarthy and Walker, 2004, p. 101S).
There is often disagreement among faiths, denominations, congregations, and individual believers about the role of religious groups in social justice work. Should religious institutions be involved in social justice work? If so, to what extent and in what ways? The responses to these questions are often a matter of religious doctrine; however, political ideology also influences approaches to integration, service, and action. In America, there is a tension between the religious right and the liberal left. Americans "gradually, but continually, sort themselves into like-minded clusters - their commonality defined not only be religion, but also by the social and political beliefs that go along with that religion" (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 4). These dissimilarities "generate differences in convictions about how a society should be structured" and increase "the potential obstacles to effective dialogue" (Smock, 2002, p. 9).
Religiosity is directly correlated with political ideology; "the most highly religious Americans are likely to be Republicans" (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 369). Funding for faith-based initiatives has been supported by "conservative political and economic interests" (Tangenberg, 2003, p. 385). This funding may "create financial incentives for religious congregations to shift their focus toward social service provision instead of the more political ministry associated with faith-based organizing" (Wood, 2002, p. 74). Conservative religious groups are also involved in advocacy and have actively opposed progressive causes including the Equal Rights Amendment and civil rights (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 233). These groups emphasize "individual and legislative moral change" (Wood, 2002, p. 4).
In contrast, liberal religious groups "struggle to improve the socioeconomic lot of poor, working-class, and middle-income Americans" (Wood, 2002, p. 4). They offer a "prophetic challenge to public policy regarding poverty and inequality" (Wood, p. 74). These groups emphasize structural change over individual choice within the existing oppressive system.
The political positions of religious institutions often stand in opposition to the system of capitalism and the businesses that profit from it (Tangenberg, 2003; Miller, 2007). Many interfaith social justice coalitions direct their work toward changing unethical business practices that negatively impact workers (i.e. Bussel, 2003; Bobo, 2010), implying an openness to reformation and process change as opposed to radical system change.
Businesses can be important allies in social justice work. Through dialogue, businesses can change their practices to more closely align with the religious ideals espoused by interfaith groups. By being inclusive rather than divisive, interfaith groups can foster meaningful changes that impact entire organizations. Because "businesspeople themselves may be objects of oppression" (Miller, 2007, p. 85), it is essential that interfaith social justice coalitions exercise the religious doctrines of understanding and compassion to all.
Faith groups can change the climate of business negotiations and practices, leading to increased understanding on both sides. In one case, the interjection of spirituality created a "non-hierarchical, roundtable atmosphere" through which laborers and business representatives were able to deconstruct previously held beliefs about the other group (Bussel, 2003, p. 8). However, many religious organizations are hierarchical and oppressive in their own right; "the added layers of symbols, language and tradition (e.g. G-d the Father) that make them resistant to change, worse, partners in justifying the status quo" (Hunt, 2000, p. 15). Both faith-based and business institutions have a myriad of codified beliefs and practices that influence their ability to interact. They "have much to learn about each other's organizational structure, mode of operation, [and] chain of command;" failure to bridge this gap in understanding "can lead to false expectations and even disillusionment" (Higgins, 2010, p. 58).
Social justice activists often experience conflict due to the divergence of their beliefs and resultant activism and those of family, friends and colleagues, even when their practices are rooted in commonly held spiritual beliefs. They risk losing relationships, professional credibility, and even their physical safety. These risks solidify activists' commitment to the cause and help them "know that they could be faithful to their values." (McIsaac Bruce, 2005, p. 220). Activists also risk suppressing or changing their own personal convictions when connecting with activists of other faiths; "learning new information and skills requires people to take a certain degree of risk and to abandon or suspend their existing knowledge and attitudes toward the other" (Abu-Nimer, 2002, p. 26). Taking personal risks can lead to increased self-awareness as well as greater understanding of others.
The faith at work movement recognizes that human beings are multidimensional and that spirituality is an integral component of our lives. Similarly, interfaith social justice coalitions intentionally connect spirituality with group activities in a way that embraces diversity. Both offer a model for integration of self and spirit - one at work and the other in community.
Spirituality is the "existential search for meaning and purpose in human life and the role and feeling of linkage within the larger scheme of existence" (Pandey and Gupta, 2008, p. 66). In an organizational setting, spirituality shapes "the way that sustained purpose, culture, and identity can transcend and enhance an organization's performance and success" (Benefiel, 2005, p. 9). Infusing spirituality into work and activism has many positive outcomes; leaders who do so are able to "motivate followers, create a positive ethical climate, inspire trust, promote positive work relationships, and achieve organizational goals" (Reave, 2005, p. 656). Religious practice serves individual, dyadic, and communal purposes in the context of work and activism.
Religion encompasses values that often intersect with individuals' other belief systems in dynamic ways. These values "build off of one another to reinforce and modify each other to create a more global sense of principles" within each person (Morgan, 2008, p. 70). An individual's morality and may or may not be attached to their religious beliefs (Morgan, 2008, p. 70). Nonetheless, a strong positive relationship has been found between religiosity and altruistic values (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 464); thus, religious Americans may be more likely to support charitable or activist work.
Spiritual integration creates an environment where activists and workers can communicate, interact, identify and develop common goals, and build a new future together without jeopardizing the creation of positive relationships. Through the process of sharing multiple spiritualties, individuals "make a deeper human connection with each other" and this "becomes the main source for the individual's commitment to social change, peace work, and taking risks" (Abu-Nimer, 2002, p. 17). The opportunities for developing meaningful connections with others are enhanced through "the possibility for spiritual encounter" which "may enhance the participants' commitment to peace work and social change" (Smock, 2002, p. 127). The integration of spirituality can also change the course of discussions or the nature of relationships by inserting "ethical equations concerning fairness into negotiations" (Horwitz, 2010, p. 196).
Human beings have a spirituality and the existence of this is often suppressed in secular organizations. The Faith at Work movement takes a holistic approach to humanity by recognizing the existence and importance of spirituality in people's lives. "For people of religious faith, separating their faith from their moral values might well be impossible. For other individuals, their sincere and meaningful beliefs may be rooted in value systems or in a spirituality based upon something other than formal mainstream religions" (Cash and Gray, 2000, p. 127). Faith at work initiatives bring together faith and work "in a reconstructive, dialectical, and holistic fashion" (Miller, 2007, p. 74).
Just as faith and spirituality cannot be separated from work, they cannot be separated from community involvement. Indeed, it is often what motivates individuals to get involved in community change work. For example, Stout (1996) was propelled into activism by her Quaker faith, both through learning about the history of her denomination through interpretation and application of the faith's values in her own life. "The moral values of equality and justice...are now the basis for my political action" (p. 15). Activism is also inspired by relationships formed at houses of worship. "Having close friends at church, discussing religion frequently with your family and friends, and taking part in small groups at church are extremely powerful predictors of the entire range of generosity, good neighborliness, and civic engagement" (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 472).
When multiple beliefs are welcome at work or in community, a new culture may emerge. Groups may "create their own rituals and symbols through the dialogue process to celebrate a 'third culture'" (Abu-Nimer, 2002, p. 18). This new culture "creates an atmosphere of trust that encourages meaningful interaction" and " gets participants moving toward the process of exploring religious differences as well as political positions" (Abu-Nimer, 2002, p. 21). This culture still recognizes and allows room for differences. While there may be commonly held beliefs or values, they may be interpreted or experienced differently according to "the context and uniqueness of each religious tradition" (Cilliers, 2002, p. 50).
Miller's integration box has four components: ethics, evangelism, experience, and enrichment. Each element is expressed through the work of interfaith social justice coalitions.
Ethics concerns "connecting biblical ethics to concrete applications...to discern and culturally transpose biblical teachings or principles to the complex ethical dilemmas faced and work in contemporary society" (Miller, 2007, p. 76). Interfaith social justice coalitions often draw from religious teachings, including the Bible as well as other texts, to illuminate modern social problems and possible solutions. Activists draw from these traditions to articulate values, morality, and ideals.
Through evangelism, workers and activists have the opportunity to directly express their faith (Miller, 2007, p. 76). Social justice activists use this as a strategy when engaged in direct action to demonstrate the connection between faith and social justice. Interfaith coalition members may also share their particular faith beliefs in an attempt to better understand others and to identify and build upon common ground. Some faith-based organizations participate in "reverse evangelism" through which they "intend to reinvigorate the church's sense of mission and put insulated congregants in touch with the realities of poverty" (Campbell, 2002, p. 224). Ebaugh, Chafetz, and Pipes (2006) found that the "more socially active the coalition, the less religiously expressive it is in its service delivery, but the more religious it is in its public face" (p. 2270). Expression of faith, in interfaith social justice coalitions and other faith-based work, can be manipulated to reflect the intended organizational purpose and goals. Evangelism should unite rather than divide people working together toward common goals. It can be "like a shared home where each family member can have privacy in his or her room but also have public space in which one may speak freely and fully about any common problem - and thus cooperate in making the space a safe and comfortable home for everyone" (Munjid, 2008, p. 118). Expression of faith can bridge differences; "rather than a wedge pushing Americans apart, public expressions of religion often serve to pull them together" (Putnam and Campbell, 2010, p. 494). Expression can also unite people across ideological differences. "By drawing on religious motivations and teachings, faith-based organizing can and does transcend ideological divisions between left and right" (Wood, 2002, p. 179).
Through experience, individuals find "intrinsic meaning and teleological purpose in their work" (Miller, 2007, p. 77). Many social justice activists intentionally pursue activism as a means to manifest their spiritual purpose. Social justice work provides an opportunity for people of faith to connect their relationship with a higher power to the everyday experiences of people in their community.
The fourth component of the integration box, enrichment, includes "spiritual disciplines, therapeutic healing, and transformation" (Miller, 2007, p. 77). Interfaith social justice activists may find that participation in a diverse group working toward social change provides this nurturance.
Interfaith social justice coalitions unearth and develop the skills, relationships, and common goals necessary to build bridges across, and transcend differences related to, religion, class, race, and other areas. Potential for change exists in four interrelated domains: human integration, relationships, interdependence, and transcendence.
Interfaith social justice coalitions encourage members to infuse their spirituality with their activism. Spiritual leadership integrates "the four fundamental forces of human existence (body, mind, heart, and spirit) so that people are motivated for high performance, have increased organizational commitment, and personally experience joy, peace, and serenity" (Fry, 2003, p. 718). These objectives can be realized through interfaith social justice work, whereby faith propels people into action and sustains their commitment to the cause.
Spiritual leaders build relationships by "integrating his or her being with that of others via collective images, thoughts, feelings and behaviors to create shared purpose and meaning" (Kriger and Seng, 2005, p. 798). Leaders can also encourage expression of faith within the coalition. "The leaders' role is to model this type of literacy in their own tradition and then encourage followers to achieve a similar literacy in their own respective traditions" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2007, p. 238).
Inclusion of multiple perspectives provides opportunities for "sharing of different perspectives, access to diverse sectors of the community, and connections to powerful players within communities" (Kegler, Hall, and Kiser, 2010, p. 671). Faith affiliation serves as a connecting point with potential partners and activism targets. Religious institution affiliation adds credibility to social justice work; they are seen as important community resources that, "have strong reputations, and...serve as the "center of life" for many people" (Kegler, Hall, and Kiser, 2010, p. 670).
Relationships often inspire participation in social justice work. By offering "affirmation and support to the participants and they provided inspiration through their commitments, spiritual depth and integrity." (McIsaac Bruce, 2005, p. 218). New relationships are also built as a result of coalition involvement. These relationships may not have been created outside of the context of social justice work and commitment to a particular cause; sometimes "the people working together are 'unlikely' in that they share little more in common than a commitment to an important social issue" (Hunt, 2000, p. 16). This basis can serve as a means to further the work of the coalition. Bridges are built through a common "commitment to justice, reconciliation, truth, and forgiveness" (Cilliers, 2002, p. 58). New people are engaged in the work by leveraging activists' existing relationships; they "activate preexisting networks within the congregations, to extend those networks more broadly by reaching out to new people, and to cross-link preexisting networks more densely" (Wood, 2002, p. 35).
As relationships develop, community is built and members recognize the deep connections among members. This is "important as a resource for liberation in that it provides a challenge to attend to the connections between and among us that can move us forward to mutuality and commitment to the good of others in community" (McIsaac Bruce, 2005, p. 224). Members are reminded that, "we have to take care of each other. This command is in all our religions, and following its imperative is our only chance for survival as a human race" (Patel, Kunze, and Silverman, 2008, p. 35).
Interfaith social justice coalitions redefine social problems in a spiritual context and connect activist work with divinity. "In responding to challenging circumstances, the leaders' actions say "yes" to a higher purpose/moral principle/inner G-d, and "no" to societal norms/authority structures/laws that get in the way... the leaders' actions imply a "no" to an unjust reality and a "yes" to their higher purpose" (Parameshwar, 2005, p. 701). Activists are inspired by the love and goodness found in their religion. "The paradigm we envision cannot be driven by fear. The real work lying before us is spiritual and calls us to nothing less than fundamental change" (Magnani and Wray, 2006, p. 2). Activism is a manifestation of spirituality experienced in a diverse community.
Interfaith social justice coalitions offer an example of how the faith at work movement can be realized. Though many tensions arise when diverse groups are brought together and encouraged to share their distinguishing beliefs, the potential for individual, dyadic, organizational, and social change is paramount. Differences can be bridged through dialogue and focus on a common purpose. The faith at work movement can gain insight from the experience of interfaith social justice coalitions, which have for decades understood that faith is an integral part of our humanity and that spirituality both motivates and shapes individual beliefs and activities.
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Jessica R. Dreistadt is the founding director of The Fruition Coalition and is studying for a doctorate in organizational leadership at Eastern University.