Written by Daniel Hazard
In an effort to dispel misunderstandings concerning Islam and the estimated five million Muslims in America, Intersections, a multi-cultural and multi-faith initiative of The Collegiate Church of New York has launched a unique on-line resource called ChangeTheStory.net.
The website was inspired by a new and major report, "Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World," compiled by the Leadership Group on U.S. Muslim Engagement. The group comprises more than thirty American leaders with expertise in foreign policy, politics, public opinion, business, religion, education, psychology, philanthropy, national security, and conflict resolution.
"Our goal is to build an interactive experience for concerned individuals, educators and religious leaders that helps to change the stereotypical narratives about Muslims that so dominates our media and prevailing public perceptions about Muslim communities in this country and around the world," said the Rev. Robert Chase, founding director of Intersections and former UCC director of communications. "We wanted to create something groundbreaking, distinctive and totally compelling; something that Muslims and non-Muslims alike can call their own."
Intersections enlisted a nationally known team of writers, theologians, video producers and web designers to develop this resource, which is designed to be informative, interactive and user-friendly.
"It has been an honor to work on this project," says Munir Shaikh, a doctoral student in Islamic Studies at UCLA and a member of the writing team for the project. "I don't know of another visually appealing resource like this anywhere that is so informative for such a variety of audiences."
The site features areas where users can meet their neighbors, learn about Islam and apply techniques of dialog and action to local communities. The primary audiences for the web site are educators, religious leaders and individuals concerned about building bridges of understanding across lines of faith and culture.