Programs

FRD’s Programs: The Foundation has adopted a number of strategies for achieving its goal. These include the following:

1) Chapters:

The Foundation incorporates chapters in a variety of religious and secular traditions. These are essentially independently organized chapters which informally represent their communities and constituencies. They function under the leadership of custodians who pursue the best strategies designed for their communities through both intra- as well as inter-religious activities.

2) Religious Diplomats:

The Foundation seeks to find and train persons who are religiously bilingual, that is, not only intimately familiar with their own religion, but also highly conversant with the beliefs and practices of at least one other religion. They will become useful independent agents for their own communities when tensions or opportunities for social cooperation arise. Anyone that desires to sit down with a religious rival or opponents in honest conversation can develop the skill and improve their lives.

3) Heart and Mind Conferences:

These are conferences that bring together spokespersons for different faiths in a seminar type setting, where the opportunity exists to present papers, but more, to engage in open conversations that share formative experiences varying religious or skeptical points of view. Conferences like this have taken place at the University of Southern California in 2010 with representatives of Mormons and other Abrahamic religious traditions. Another conference took place in 2012 at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Virginia between Mormon and Methodist scholars.

4) Documentary Film:

The Foundation co-produced a film that narrated how a person turned from suspicion and contempt of a religious community to trust and good-will without compromising his or her religious integrity. The film is called Us and Them: Religious Rivalry in America and can be purchased online.

5) The World Table Conversation System:

The Foundation has invested heavily in The World Table Public Benefit Corporation which has designed and developed an Internet commenting system that plugs into any website. It allows users to rate comments based their respectfulness, helpfulness, honesty and likability. Such a conversation system will allow us to scale our method of conversation, The Way of Openness, to millions online. Forthright encounters online are now safe and rich between people whose reputations are rewarded for respectful interaction and punished for bad behavior. The World Table’s strategic partner is Patheos.com, the largest general religion and spirituality site in the world.

6) Commitment to Ethical Persuasion:

The Foundation enrolls all religious or ideological groups to adopt a commitment to only employ ethical means of persuasion when advocating their respective beliefs or practices. The following is the declaration of commitment that establishes those ethical standards for honorable religious, ideological, or cultural diplomacy:

 

A DECLARATION OF COMMITMENT

TO PROMOTE AND DEFEND OUR CONVICTIONS BY ONLY BY RESPECTFUL PERSUASION

We, the members and friends of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, although holding different religious allegiances and world views, join together in this solemn declaration:

We believe that all people have the power to influence others and are responsible to use their influence in good conscience to improve the world.

We acknowledge that people of integrity, intelligence, and good will hold substantially different religious convictions or world views, and that these differences — which are often not resolvable even through better education and understanding — can lead to sincere conflicts over what is best for the world.

We affirm the prerogative of persons and groups to attempt to influence others to adopt or resist different religious allegiances or world views, provided they do so only through honest, respectful persuasion without coercion or threat of harmful injury to others.

We commit ourselves, and vigorously encourage all people, to engage in honest, respectful conversations that allow for mutual understanding and persuasion as we promote and defend our religious or ideological convictions.

We denounce any human threats of harmful injury, acts of coercion or violence to influence another’s conscience, religious allegiance, or world view.