Michelle Boorstein does well as always to catch and report on important and relevant trends in religion. Here she notes a serious trend toward decline in the world of interfaith. She recommends that this may be due to the fact that interfaith professionals and activists are failing to keep up with developments in the world of religion, especially changing attitudes among younger generations.
But could there be a more serious and profound reason for the growing disinterest in major interfaith groups? Our world is aflame in near incurable cycles of horror and violence, all involving religion in some way or another – the “this isn’t really religion” mantra notwithstanding.
How can people feel much interest in mushy gatherings of hugs and photos, when these do not seem to be providing solutions to a tragic world of war and problems raging all around us?
Interfaith movement struggles to adapt to changing religious landscape
The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington is known as one of the country’s early multi-faith groups, and its executive director’s nickname is the “dean of American interfaith.” Yet as it approaches its 35th anniversary in November, the group is fighting for survival, down to two full-time staff members and facing more than $100,000 in debt.
The conference, which has a major fundraiser planned this fall and aims to restructure the organization and sharpen its mission, is hardly alone. Some of the oldest and best-known names in interfaith, including the National Council of Churches and the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World Religions, have slashed staff as their revenue shriveled.
The Interfaith Conference is struggling, experts and some group leaders say, in part because it relies too much on clergy and religious denominations for participation and money at a time when many traditional faith groups are losing members and status as more Americans drop or switch spiritual affiliations and are less committed.