Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace, and Justice
Multi-City Interfaith March begins to gather steam
LOS ANGELES—In the shadow of horrible violence and attacks on religious liberty, some people are working to get organized and they are building on foundations that they have been laying for years.
The Interfaith March for Peace & Justice, founded in 2017 by a small group of organizers called the Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders (SAIL), was originally designed to affirm religious freedom and equal justice after an increase in hate crimes and acts of intimidation in the state of Ohio. After holding a successful event in Columbus in April 2017, SAIL organizers were able to expand the footprint of their event by coordinating with other cities in the US and abroad. On April 29, 2018, the second Interfaith March for Peace & Justice took place in nine US cities and four locations abroad.
Motivated by the same set of circumstances, organizers in Los Angeles had created a very similar event, an annual Interfaith Solidarity March -- #InterfaithMarchLA -- which began in March 2016. In 2018, just one week prior to their third annual march, the Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace, and Justice (IRPTJ) was contacted by the founders of the Interfaith March for Peace & Justice. Serendipitously (and perhaps providentially), the two organizations discovered that they had scheduled their 2017 and 2018 marches on exactly the same day, along with another event in Philadelphia called the Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation. Drawn by what seemed to be powerful cosmic forces, the organizers from LA, Columbus, and Philly, began to collaborate. Thus, a partnership began.
In order to “seal the deal” SAIL and the Los Angeles-based Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice (IRTPJ) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, allowing them to pool resources and join forces to further promote the Interfaith March for Peace & Justice. Because of the international scope of the IRTPJ and the global goals of the March, this was seen as a perfect fit. “We are thrilled about this development,” Davis said, “since our goal is to expand partnerships and put up a big tent for people who care about the basic principles of religious freedom and equal justice for all people. We live in a time when powerful forces have been trying to undermine these principles. We need to stand up together right now to re-assert these principles and shore them up.”
Dr. Arik Greenberg, Founder and President of the IRTPJ, expressed similar optimism and a similar sense of urgency. Dr. Greenberg’s group had already started the process of expansion, partnering with like-minded partners in nearby San Fernando Valley in 2017. The growth potential of the March with emerging global partners has him feeling even more inspired. Discussing the merger with SAIL’s Interfaith March campaign, he said, “I felt as if our work had been rewarded and supported by a cosmic force—call it God, if you will—and it was fated that we should work together. Now that our own local LA-based march has become a part of a growing coalition of local marches, we’ve seen what a group of passionate and committed people can do.” He said he felt “a little daunted by the task of being the organizing hub of nearly two dozen marches around the globe, but with the passion that Mr. Davis brought to the table in the first few years of his leadership of that march, I think we are off to a great start.”
At this time, Interfaith March promoters are actively seeking like-minded partners who want to push back against extremism, violence, and intimidation while promoting the principles of equal justice and religious liberty for all. Organizers will soon be issuing a formal call for mini-grant proposals and would like potential partners to know that mini-grants up to $750 can be awarded to groups who are facing march-related expenses such as security, logistics, publicity, and other aspects of ensuring that their marches are successful embodiments of the interfaith movement.
“The Interfaith March for Peace & Justice is poised to become the largest coalition of interfaith marches in the world,” Dr. Greenberg stated. The organizers are hopeful that the next Interfaith March for Peace & Justice on Sunday, September 22nd, 2019, will take place in at least 25 US locations and at least 10 cities abroad. “It’s not enough right now for us to click like on Facebook or retweet things—though that’s important too. Now is the time for us to speak our mind in public or else continue to see our world devolve into something worse and worse. We hope like-minded people will join us.”