Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism
Barbara McGraw, St. Mary’s College of California
Funded by St. Mary’s College of California
Founded in 2008, CERP engages religiously diverse and non‑faith perspectives to promote interfaith awareness and interreligious understanding and thereby contribute to an enriched, religiously diverse national and international discourse on matters of public concern. Since its beginning, CERP has been involved in broadening chaplains’ knowledge of unfamiliar religions and understanding of legal and religious diversity issues affecting chaplaincy. CERP is a part of Saint Mary’s College of California, a Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts institution.
The Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism addresses issues in many publics by engaging religiously diverse perspectives to contribute to a more inclusive political culture, solutions to public policy issues, and the development of interfaith leaders among students and in various professions.
For decades, U.S. popular political debate has been framed as an argument between religious right and secular left. That frame is becoming outmoded as an interfaith movement has begun to take hold in the U.S. and around the world, fostering greater understanding and cooperation among people of many faiths.
Since 2008, the Center has contributed to that trend by advocating a way to frame the popular political discourse through a different lens — “America’s Sacred Ground” — providing opportunities for many religious viewpoints to be heard in a wide spectrum of settings. This work offers insights for creative, spiritually inspired approaches to religious diversity and policy in government institutions and cultivates interfaith leadership and multifaith engagement in many sectors to further the value of pluralism.
The Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism engages religiously diverse and non-faith perspectives to foster interreligious understanding and leadership, promoting practices and policies that address religious diversity in many publics. Through this work and the cultivation of “interfaith leaders,” CERP contributes to more respectful, inclusive communities.
The Center aims to be, and to be known in academic, government, business, professional and non-profit forums and in the Saint Mary’s College community as, an influential and effective champion of the value of pluralism through its mission-driven, engaged religious pluralism events, programs, and scholarship.
“Interfaith Leader” – An interfaith leader is a person with the knowledge, capacity for self-reflection and empathy, values and skills to lead inclusively and effectively in any religiously and spiritually diverse environment to further pluralism in service of social justice.
“Pluralism” – Pluralism can be understood in this context as the value, mindset, and achievement of cooperation across boundaries of religious, spiritual, and secular difference to work toward and achieve common goals in equal dignity, respect and mutual loyalty.