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High School Interfaith Groups

How to Form an Interfaith Club at Your High School

I have been working with university students, bringing them together to learn about one another’s religions and to tradition to convert to another one. I believe the reason so few convert is that when young people listen to others articulate their beliefs, it leads them back to study their own. And, in doing so, they embrace their own tradition in an educated, fresh way.

Reverend Gail J. Stearns, Dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel at Chapman University

Why Have an Interfaith Club?

Though your high school may already have clubs that support and bring together members of just one faith community, an interfaith club includes members from all religious traditions or those who are simply respectful of religious belief or who wish that everyone is treated with kindness and decency at your high school. An Interfaith club advocates for the freedom of all religions and unites against the forces that would make us enemies.

An IC allows us to learn from each other, to support each other—especially when our religions may make us seem odd—and to serve together to build a kinder, more decent and generous world. And simply to make friends. 

First Steps:

  1. Start with a few friends you respect. At least one should be from a different faith tradition than yours. More is better!
  2. Go to the administrator, usually at assistant principal, and ask for the forms to form a club or access the forms on line.
  3. Locate an adviser, someone you respect. Advisers can teach any subject and need have no special expertise in interfaith matters.
  4. Advisers may do as little as offer you space in their classroom for meetings (at least once a month, often weekly) and provide their signature on the school forms, plus advise when necessary on school policy and financial matters. Please avoid advisers who wish to convert others to their faith tradition.
  5. Other school personnel and adult community members generally may serve asa co-advisers and provide supervision for the club’s activities held outside of school hours if the adviser cannot do so. This lessens the demand on the faculty adviser. (Your local Interfaith Council may provide help here; please reach out to us at info@GHBIC.org!)
  6. Feel free to create a great name for your club!

The Forms:

Consult your school’s “Club’s Handbook,” but don’t be intimidated by it. The process is simpler than it looks.

Generally, Interfaith Clubs will count at “curricular clubs” because they have a clear and direct connection with the school’s curriculum, or they may count as service clubs.”

You may be asked if your club is similar to other clubs on campus. Here you may want to contrast your club to faith-based groups. Something like this: “The Interfaith club welcomes members from all faith traditions and all students who are interested in the faiths of others and in promoting kindness and decency at our high school.”

You will be asked to submit the club’s constitution and the names of officers.  The constitution can be very simple and amended later if necessary.  Since the club is just beginning, you will not have yet elected officers, but you can list the names of those starting the club with a note that they are temporary leaders.

Your Club’s Goals:

Any of the following may be helpful, but please feel free to add your own:

  • To promote understanding and respect for different faith traditions.
  • To learn about the privileges and limitations of the First Amendment.
  • To explore the role of religion in creating a more just, merciful, and sustainable society.
  • To understand the historic roles of diverse faith traditions.
  • To combat stereotyping, discrimination, and bullying.
  • To celebrate spiritual and cultural diversity.
  • To celebrate the role of faith the lives of students at (name of high school)
  • To advocate for kindness and decency for all who attend (name of high school)

What Does an Interfaith Club Do? Major Activities:

Any of the following may be helpful, but please feel free to add your own:

  1. House of Worship Tours—visiting the houses of worship (by invitation) of a variety of faith traditions.
  2. Breaking Bread together—celebrating the foods of important religious holidays from a variety of religious traditions.
  3. Service Projects: those sponsored by various religious congregations, and those initiated by the (name of high school) High School Interfaith Council.
  4. Day of Prayer in May.
  5. Blessing of the Waves (Huntington Beach Pier).
  6. Orange County Interfaith Alliance Activities
  7. Thanksgiving Interfaith activities

What to Do at the First Few Interfaith Club Meetings

(Any of the following may be helpful, but please feel free to add your own):

Introductions: Have all people identify themselves with a few pieces of information such as their name, year, faith tradition (if any) and the answer to a “light” question such as,

  • “All [children or little members of your faith tradition] ______”  (peek during family prayer, learn to give talks with their mothers whispering every two word to them, xxxxx)
  • “What I hope to learn from Interfaith Club.”
  • Ask members to come to a meeting prepared to share what their faith teaches or does about one topic such as:
    • Your favorite part about being a member of your faith
    • Holidays
    • What you are taught to do if you do something you are ashamed of
    • Death and the afterlife
    • How is music used in your faith?
    • Is service part of your faith? How?
    • How we pray as a ______ Is prayer written, prepared, or spontaneous? Is it individual individual or in groups? What do you do with your hands or eyes or clothing when you pray? How do you address diety? How do you close your prayers?
    • How does your family observe your religion?

Share upcoming service projects or activities from your faith community that others would be welcome to attend.

Ask someone in attendance to give a roughly five-minute introduction to their faith to the group at the next meeting.

Discuss how to speak out when you learn of intolerance toward any religious group, either in your community or world-wide.

Publicity:

For a flyer, banner or announcement: Is your religion important to you? Are you interested in others’ faith? Would you like to work with other people of goodwill to improve our community?

Is your religion important to you? Are you interested in others’ faith? Would you like to work with other people of goodwill to improve our community?

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