Faith Commons

Challenges to Our Faith

Religious Liberty

Faith Commons upholds religious liberty as one of the most important tenets of our American life together. Authentic religious liberty affirms the First Amendment, in both the establishment clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…) and the free exercise clause (…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof).

The meaning of religious liberty has been distorted in popular understanding recently. Too often the Christian religious right has co-opted the quest for religious liberty to ensure their own preferential treatment under the law. This is an over-extension of the free exercise clause at the expense of the establishment clause.

Faith Commons promotes a balance between the two, which affirms every person’s religious or nonreligious practice without government restriction or promotion. This way, America can live out the pluralistic ideals on which we were founded.


One thing many faith traditions value is taking care of the poor and serving others.

Jesus and the prophets consistently call upon us to look after the orphan, the widow, and the oppressed.

We recognize that we have been complicit in building systems of injustice that contribute to poverty. Some faith traditions wrestle with the causes of and subsequent social responses to poverty. “We believe we have a duty to all people of faith to engage in constructive dialogue and concerted action to understand, mitigate and eliminate the severest forms of poverty that beset humanity,” writes William Brackney for Good Faith Media.

Many people have examined what our social, economic and religious responsibilities are in systems of poverty and how we can be part of the solution. Hopefully these resources can help you find a deeper understanding of your personal role in the system, and a deeper sense of compassion for the poor among us.

Racial Justice

Faith Commons affirms the God-given equality of all people, no matter their race, ethnicity or creed. We are committed to doing the hard work of self-examination to uproot the causes of racial injustice and contribute to making our communities more equitable.

The summer of 2020 has been a season of reckoning, and Faith Commons mourns the loss of black lives that have been disproportionately victimized by police brutality and COVID-19 alike. We support changes in municipal budgets for police departments that will point toward a new strategy in policing that is not based on fear and violence.

Racial equality is, in many ways, closely connected to religious equality in America. American Muslims have, especially since 9/11, been ostracized and victimized. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, especially since the political rhetoric of hate and fear has become socially acceptable.

Faith Commons seeks to model inter-religious and inter-racial friendships that respect each other’s differences and feel each other’s pain. We work with and for each other for a more just society.


Our common ancestor Abraham left his native land when he was 75-years old to become a migrant, a “wandering Aramean” (Deut. 26:5). We are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, who heeded God’s call to become a stranger in a strange land, a call to go forth to an unknown place of opportunity. How many of us think about the impact of answering that call on those whose lives will be forever altered by our presence? A call whose impact does not start or end with the personal choice we make in our own generation?

Faith Commons believes one of the most morally challenging issues we face in the world today is the challenge of global mass migration and its impact on U.S. immigration policy. How do we act as responsible stewards of this country while meeting the needs of millions upon millions of Abrahams, those who—like Abraham and like ourselves, our parents and grandparents—have migrated from the place of our birth to another place? As we explore the nature of this challenge and examine possible policy solutions, we can learn some lessons from our biblical patriarch:

God blesses and protects him so that he can be a blessing to others (Gen. 12:1-3)
When he acts selfishly and purposely misleads others, he brings suffering to them and God rebukes him for it (Gen. 12:14-20)
When he is hospitable to strangers, even when experiencing personal discomfort, miracles occur (Gen. 18:1-15)

Abraham’s narrative is the narrative of one who learns, sometimes from the school of hard knocks, that God’s promise will never be fulfilled if we respond to our fears and uncertainties by causing fear and uncertainty in others. We must figure out together how to establish immigration policies that will bring blessing rather than curses to ourselves and others.

Reproductive Rights

Faith Commons affirms the inherent worth of every human being, which includes the right to autonomy over their own body. We do not believe that men should have authority over women or their bodies. The faiths represented in Faith Commons run the spectrum when it comes to this highly sensitive topic. Some of us believe that women have the right to full reproductive health care, including abortions. Some of us regard the unborn child with a sanctity that should be preserved at all costs. All of us want to see pro-lives policies that support women in the journey of pregnancy, birth and raising children, like healthcare, paid leave and childcare. We would also like to model a broader religious perspective in the public conversation other than just the evangelical Christian view. For example, the Jewish religion actually insists on abortions when the mother’s life is at stake. We believe we have a lot to learn from each other, but at the very heart of this issue, we should be on the side of the marginalized. And anti-abortion policies unfairly target poor women of color more than others.