WASHINGTON, DC, October 12, 2011 –Saying that America stood at a critical juncture in its history, Dr. Robert Schuller, chairman of the National Faith Leaders Summit, urged religious leaders to get involved by advancing the values that unite the religious community.
“Faith leaders and faith communities must not remain bystanders when the future of this nation is at stake,” he said. “We cannot just focus on our local congregations, but need to find common ground to unite people of faith and redirect the nation to its founding ideals.”
Dr. Schuller addressed 200 faith leaders from around the United States at the opening of the Summit last night. Leaders from diverse religious communities will discuss the Summit theme: “One Nation under God? Our Common Mission for American Renewal.”
Dr. Schuller said that the Summit will assess the impact of diminished faith among the American public and the role of faith leaders in the nation. “The voice of faith,” he observed, “is essential in reminding both our elected leaders and our citizenry that our personal lives have public consequences.”
Dr. Howard Dean Trulear of the Howard University School of Divinity, and the Washington DC host of the Summit, noted that some in the faith community were losing confidence in their ability to influence the public square, even as there was growing academic research on the intersection of religion and public life.
He cited work showing that crime in neighborhoods rises with the number of liquor stores but is reduced by the presence of a church, and noted that a level of peace had been restored in South-Central Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots by faith-based grassroots community groups, not by government programs, according to a University of Southern California study.
Faith and the Power to Transform
“People of faith are the ones with the ability to grow great flowers from the refuse of the world, whose petals are the leaves of the healing of the nations, and whose stems are straight with the righteousness of the transcendent reality.”
— Remarks of Dr. Howard Trulear, National Faith Leaders Summit
The growing recognition of the importance of faith in the public square was also demonstrated by the number of foundations establishing programs to research religion and culture, and the government’s establishment of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
The Summit will run through Thursday, concluding with a forum on Capitol Hill followed by meetings of participants with their congressional representatives.
The National Faith Leaders Summit is convened by the Global Peace Foundation’s U.S. chapter as part of the interfaith sector of GPF’s tri-fold platform – faith, family, and service. Co-sponsoring partner organizations are Strengthening Families and Communities Coalitions of DC and Atlanta; Vision Ministries International; The Greater Washington DC Urban League; and The Urban League of Atlanta.