It Starts With You

We’re beginning a dialogue. All around the country, students, thought leaders, and their communities are discussing constructive approaches to living together in a society of difference, where every voice is heard.  

Especially when societal values like non-discrimination or child welfare interact with faith, many see friction and no solutions. Today’s tense public discourse drives young people away from even exploring how best to live together.

We have a better way: talking to each other.

Engaging Hard Issues at the Intersection of Faith, Sexuality, and Families

For example, LGBT people face discrimination in housing, jobs, and restaurants in parts of the country.  They want to be treated like everyone else.

Religious schools, employers, and small businesses seek to affirm their deeply held convictions around religious sacraments—like marriage and circumcision.  Sometimes they ask to step aside from services that would violate their beliefs.  Sometimes houses of worship are regulated like government buildings, grocery stores, and other public places.

Instantly, important freedoms are in tension.

Equally hard, children are dying in pockets of the US from “faith healing.” Does respecting faith mean that nothing can be done to prevent these tragic deaths? Will jailing parents save lives? Can we better protect children by engaging religious communities more deeply? 

Is there a solution to hard issues that best serves all our commitments?  This is where the Dialogues come in.  

More Than An Idea

The Tolerance Means Dialogues challenge the misconception that it’s impossible for people of good will to find common ground on the hardest issues. The Dialogues harness and amplify the insights of Millennials and members of Gen. Z, tomorrow’s leaders, who have grown up with unprecedented diversity—and a spirit of openness and inclusivity. Just look at the essays written by our scholarship winners. Tolerance, they urge, means moving beyond ambivalence and forging a path toward genuine respect.

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Parents should cry when a son or daughter comes out to them. Tears of joy should roll down their faces, because their child somehow managed to find the courage to become a potential target in the face of an outdated but ever present adversity.

Elizabeth Kazmierczak

Undergrad Winner
University of Illinois

In every ecosystem in the world, diversity is valued and necessary for the survival of all organisms in the environment, a more diverse population has a stronger fitness. There’s one exception to that rule and that’s with human society. We think diversity makes us weaker.
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I just thought tolerance meant even though I do not agree with you, I just let you do what you want and not say anything to you . . . That is not tolerance but the destruction of the societal balance and what makes America so promising to so many groups of people over the past centuries.

Arielle Brown

Graduate Winner
University of Illinois

I strive to listen before I speak and to find connections more than I find differences. Tolerance in dialogues highlights the unspoken similarities between individuals. Have we as humans experienced similar forms of trauma? Oppression? Joy?

Blake Gibney

Graduate Winner
University of Illinois
College of Law

Tolerance does require me to accept the reality that other people have different core values. Tolerance does require me to accept that I cannot change the hearts and beliefs of every person. Acceptance is difficult but it is the best way to propel meaningful dialogue.
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Sarah Arney

Undergrad Student Winner
University of North Carolina

In the religious context, I don’t think tolerance makes much sense…The conversation I want to have in my religious community is not about how to tolerate gay people, but rather whether we will fully accept their faith and relationships.

All Views

In our tense public discourse, valuable insights can be lost. Not only is that a shame, it is self-defeating—these insights may hold the key to solving these difficult problems.  So, to guide this important conversation, we've brought together voices that capture all angles and points of view.

Each Dialogue approaches its subject with a sense of compassion and respect, with a spirit of civility. The reality is that none of us knows all there is to know.  Only by listening with an open mind can we move forward together.  


Putting It Into Practice

We're hitting the road and taking these dialogues to all corners of the country. Take a look at where we've been and where we're planning to go.

University of Pittsburgh

Idaho State Capitol

University of North Carolina

University of St. Thomas

Loras College

University of Illinois

University of Alabama

Case Western Reserve University