Making Room for All Religious Traditions in the Public Sphere

Making Room for All Religious Traditions in the Public Sphere

News Story

Mary Deros, city councillor for Park Extension in Montreal, Quebec, recently welcomed participants of Montreal’s seventh annual Interfaith Eco-Action Day. Deros commented, “This coming together of different communities and different religions, working together for the betterment of other citizens, is so heart-warming.”

Eco-action events are an opportunity for people of different faiths or no faith at all to come together to make a difference in the community and to express the common belief that we are all entrusted with the care of the Earth.

“Making space for all religious traditions in the public sphere is important,” said Catherine Jarvis, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of the organizers of the event. “It is important,” Jarvis continued, “for people of different faith traditions to work together, not just beside each other, in the community.”

Over the years, the Interfaith Eco-Action Day organizing committee has been represented by various groups, including the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal, Concordia Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre, Al-Madinah Centre, Peace Initiatives Canada (a Muslim organization), the Green Churches Network, the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and Teva Quebec (a Jewish environmental group).

At this year’s Interfaith Eco-Action Day, emcee Laura Gallo invited an imam, a priest, a rabbi and a Mormon to participate in some myth-busting. She invited each to answer the following: “What is something about your faith that you feel is misunderstood? Is there a misconception about your faith that you want to clear up right here, right now?”

Reverend Nicholas Pang, a priest from the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, spoke about wearing his traditional collar and what this represents for many in traditional Christianity. He wanted to bust the myth that these traditions are anti-women or exclusionist. “Tradition is what connects me to people here and around the world,” he said. “Tradition is beautiful and opens up new doors rather than closing them.”

Imam Musabbir Alam, from the Imani Community Centre, spoke to the myth that Muslims are somehow different from the rest of the community. He told a story of a neighbour whom he invited to a barbecue. The neighbour asked, “Muslims have barbecues?”

Imam Alam went on to remind the crowd that we are more similar than different. “Muslims share common beliefs with Christians and Jews,” he said. “We believe in Moses and Jesus. We share this common ground with brothers and sisters of all faiths.”

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow busted the myth that there is only one way of being Jewish. “As in all religious traditions,” she began, “so too in Judaism, there are Jews of all different religious orientations, sexual orientations, colour, socio-economic status and national origin. [We need to] recognize that there is just such tremendous diversity.”

Catherine Jarvis wanted to bust the misconception that Mormons aren’t Christians. She said, “‘Mormon’ is a common name for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jesus Christ is the centre of Mormon devotion, belief and practice.”

Rabbi Grushcow summed the myth-busting up best when she said, “There is room enough for all of us.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.