Bias Busters: Better interfaith communication

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Bias Busters

FROM WAYNE BAKER: This week, we welcome Joe Grimm, editor of the Michigan State University School of Journalism’s series of guides to cultural competence.

NAIN conference in Detroit 2014

Click the logo to visit the NAIN 2014 website.

So far, the Bias Busters series includes six guides. The latest is 100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans, which we discussed yesterday. The next we will produce—and our first guide to concentrate on interfaith issues—will be about Muslim Americans.

How does it make sense to follow up a guide about Arabs with one about Muslims? Many Americans assume that these are pretty much the same groups: All Arabs are Muslims, aren’t they?

No, they are not. And that is one of the first lessons for readers in the new guide when it is published in November.

Most of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs. And most Arab Americans are not Muslims, either. Simple and significant facts like these are the heart of the Bias Busters series.

We hope that with clear, accurate information, people will be more comfortable talking with each other and will have deeper conversations with more people.

The guides begin by interviewing people from the group we write about and they are meant to start conversations and journeys.

We will begin our journey on the Muslim guide with two conferences in Detroit in August. The first will be the North American Interfaith Network conference in Detroit Aug. 10-13. The second will be the convention of the Islamic Society of North America Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

These are some of the questions we will be asking, but we’d really appreciate it if you could give us a head start with answers of your own:

What are major misconceptions about Muslims? What do people get wrong?

What are essential facts to understanding Islam in America?

JOE GRIMM is visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and editor of the Bias Busters guides to cultural competence. He spent more than 25 years at the Detroit Free Press, 18 of them as its recruiter. You can read more about the series on its website at: http://news.jrn.msu.edu/culturalcompetence/

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