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Beyond Election '08 - Building Interfaith Bridges

November 13, 2008

Richmond - An annual meeting in Richmond today will bring together young people from different faiths to try to capitalize on their new energy to build bridges of understanding and revitalize communities.

Dr. Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, will address the Virginia Interfaith Center. He says young people of all faiths across America and the rest of the world have been energized by last week's election, and now is a great time for Virginians to build stronger understanding by coming together in service to their communities.

"It's about bringing people from different religious backgrounds together to build houses, to clean rivers, to tutor children, and to talk about what it is in our different faiths that inspire us to come together to build understanding and serve others."

Dr. Patel believes now is the time to capitalize on the energy of the younger generation and channel it in the direction of building interfaith bridges.

"Virginia is a very religiously diverse state, and we need to make sure that religious diversity doesn't divide us and instead it leads us towards greater cooperation and greater understanding."

Rev. Douglas Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center, adds that Americans have shown they can work to move beyond racial barriers, but more work remains, particularly when it comes to religion.

"It's not until we really come together, we bond with one another and we start working with one another in very practical ways that we're going to get beyond the biases that for too long have separated us."

Dr. Patel is the author of "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation." He will speak at the Library of Virginia tonight at 7:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.

More information is available at virginiainterfaithcenter.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - VA