Raman Singh—a Sikh educator and peace activist—is the new president of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, one of the nation’s leading regional interfaith networks. These days, the National Day of Prayer is often associated with the divisive political goals of some of its national organizers. (Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has that story.) Now, some regional groups are trying to help communities rethink and re-open this American holiday to the truly diverse religious voices in our communities. Here is Raman’s perspective …
By RAMAN SINGH
MANY in our nation will celebrate the National Day of Prayer on May 7, 2015. Signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1952, this is a day set aside for people of faith to introspect and connect with a power higher than themselves, within the context of our national community.
Most important to those of us in the interfaith community is the inclusivity of this occasion. In the spirit of democracy itself, the National Day of Prayer offers all of us an opportunity not only to pray in our individual religious traditions, but engage others of different faiths to find commonalities and build a stronger community based on common values.
People of faith generally aspire to do good in the world. We want people to be literate; to be fed and nourished; to be warm in the winter; to achieve holistic well-being.
I’ve spent a lot of time doing interfaith work. It seems to be part of my DNA. My vision for interfaith has always been about making connections and breaking barriers; pulling people together based on commonalities—aspiring to our highest self. People of faith, when called to look at their highest vision realize there should not be barriers. Hopefully we can come together and do good work, drawing on strengths of a shared vision.
My vision, as the newly elected president of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, is to bring together people of faith and to continue the work of eliminating barriers between groups and organizations. I believe that through interfaith engagement we can harness the resources and good intentions of people to impact some of the challenges facing our region.
The InterFaith Leadership Council has served as a hub for uniting people of faith in common purpose. Our focus areas are “Connections, Conciliation and Education.” One of the areas of great promise is our adult religious literacy work. Understanding the great belief traditions and practices not only reduces social difference, but expands our collective consciousness of the possibilities of faith.
As we come together for the National Day of Prayer, we will be contemplating and evoking many of the same aspirations: to reduce conflict and the inequity suffered by our vulnerable populations. To improve ourselves as human beings. We will seek the strength to carry out the important work that creates community and promotes well-being.
We hope this Day can serve as a reminder to continue educate ourselves about other faith communities. Do they pray? How do they pray? What does prayer mean to them? Through education we can continue to make connections. Which aids in conciliation.
It is our hope that we can use the National Day of Prayer as one of the times during the year when we can come together in commonality: as Americans of faith and people of purpose.
READ MORE about the regional work in Michigan at the IFLC’s website.