This Week in Interfaith America: A News Roundup

Ava DuVernay, center, in an episode of "Home Sweet Home." Photo by Casey Durkin/NBC

Every week, we bring you our favorite pieces that tell the story of Interfaith America. This week’s selections include hopeful stories about a promising program that gets college students to bridge divides and an effort by Latino Catholics to improve vaccination rates against COVID-19. We also chose pieces that ask interesting questions, like: Can a Catholic-themed horror series respect religion? And is there a Torah of Ted Lasso? 

We'd love your suggestions as we build next week's list. We look for pieces that offer interesting perspectives on religious diversity or shine a light on those who see religious pluralism as an opportunity, not a cause for despair.  Email us at

1. More than Talk: Why a Bridge-Building Effort is Spreading on College Campuses

This Interfaith America piece tells the story of Bridging the Gap, an IFYC program that gets students from different colleges to meet, talk, listen, and solve civic problems together. The program is expanding to 20 campuses this year.  “It’s a model of what’s supposed to be happening in Washington, D.C.,” one college administrator said.

2. What American Christians Hear at Church

Casey Cep, a staff writer at The New Yorker, draws from historical examples and a recent Pew study to consider what American Christians are hearing from the pulpit. Long, short, streamed online or delivered in person, sermons “remain the core of worship,” Cep writes. “They also represent a curious literary genre.”

3. Families of Different Faiths Swap Houses, Lives in Ava Duvernay’s “Home Sweet Home”

“About one in five Americans say they seldom or never interact with someone who does not share their race or ethnicity,” Emily McFarlan Miller and Adelle Banks write for Religion News Service. DuVernay’s show promises to bring people together.

4. Dante Stewart is Rekindling Black Theological Imagination

A new memoir, “Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle,” is generating buzz in literary circles and top Christian magazines. Written by Dante Stewart, a graduate student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, the book is inspired by Black writers including bell hooks and James Baldwin. Stewart tells Josiah R. Daniels of Sojourners, “I wanted my book to help you explore and imagine the possibilities for the beauty of what we know of ourselves — the beauty of Blackness.”

5. ‘A Safe Space’: Black Pastors Promote Vaccinations from the Pulpit

“More than 80 percent of adults in New York City have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine,” this piece explains, “but there are significant racial disparities in the vaccination rate.” Liam Stack of The New York Times explains how Black pastors are working to change that.

6. Latino Catholics Are Among the Most Vaccinated Religious Groups, Here’s Why

While people seeking religious exemptions to vaccine mandates continue to make news, Alejandra Molina of Religion News Service reports on another important story connecting religion and COVID-19. She describes how religious groups are mobilizing to make sure more people get vaccinated. “Latinos in the U.S. have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Molina writes, but Latino people of faith are working hard to protect their neighbors. “If we're not proactive and take the vaccine, the miracles are not going to just come," one immigrants’ rights activist said.

7. What Ted Lasso Can Teach Clergy

Writing for Religion News Service in a piece suitable for Lasso fans of all faiths, Jeffrey Salkin ponders the spiritual lessons of Ted Lasso and finds Talmudic wisdom in the folksy ways of a fish-out-of-water American football coach.

8. Game night celebrates Hispanic, Jewish cultures

Paradise Afshar of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brings us an engaging story about young Hispanic and Jewish professionals coming together to play loteria, a bingo-like game. “I think it’s a wonderful idea to show the intersectionality of Jewish and Hispanic cultures, especially as I am a Jew from Brazil,” said Melissa Harari, who sits on the American Jewish Committee’s steering committee board in Atlanta.

9. My Guidebook to Japan

This essay's sub-headline is "Lessons from Thoreau Learned in a Distant Land.” As a young scholar, Pico Iyer studied in Japan, where he read poetry and met a Zen Buddhist master. While on this journey, Iyer writes for The American Scholar, Thoreau’s brand of American spirituality resonated the most: “It was Thoreau who’d told me that I could find the whole world in a single room—and indeed do so better in a single room than a large mansion, by learning to look closely at everything around me.”

10. Midnight Mass’s Respect to Religion is Revolutionary for Horror

For The Decider, Kayla Cobb writes a smart reflection on the popular Netflix series, “Midnight Mass,” drawing on the history of Hollywood’s fraught relationship with religion.

This story was first published on Oct. 15, 2021.

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.