Religious Diversity in Minnesota Initiative

Three mourners walk to Abukhadra Masjid in Columbia Heights for a funeral
Three mourners walk to Abukhadra Masjid in Columbia Heights for a funeral
Three mourners walk to Abukhadra Masjid in Columbia Heights for a funeral

Mourners walk to Abukhadra Masjid in Columbia Heights, MN for a Funeral

Family Sunday-Mother's Day
Family Sunday-Mother's Day
Family Sunday-Mother's Day

Family Sunday, Mother's Day Planting at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, MN

Hmong Shaman Washoua's Altar
Hmong Shaman Washoua's Altar
Hmong Shaman Washoua's Altar

Hmong Shaman's Altar in Minneapolis Home

Photograph of wedding henna, forearms
Photograph of wedding henna, forearms
Photograph of wedding henna, forearms

Hennah in Preparation for a Somali Muslim Wedding in Faribault, MN

Photograph of Compass App at Masjid
Photograph of Compass App at Masjid
Photograph of Compass App at Masjid

Masjid leaders explain how an iPhone Compass App helps worshippers to determine the proper orientation for their prayers. At the Abubakarsidiq Islamic Center in Faribault, MN

Sacred Pipe at Pipestone National Monument
Sacred Pipe at Pipestone National Monument
Sacred Pipe at Pipestone National Monument

One of many ritual pipes on display at Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, MN

Swami Ganeshananda Mother's Day Concert
Swami Ganeshananda Mother's Day Concert
Swami Ganeshananda Mother's Day Concert

Swami Ganeshananda at the Mother's Day Concert at the Minnesota Hindu Milan Mandir in Farmington, MN

Guru Maharaj visiting Hindu Milan Mandir, Farmington
Guru Maharaj visiting Hindu Milan Mandir, Farmington
Guru Maharaj visiting Hindu Milan Mandir, Farmington

Shrine with image of Guru Maharaj, Swami Pranavananda, and other dieties at the MN Hindu Milan Mandir in Farmington, MN

Shreyasi Kambale teaching Marathi at the Chinmaya Mission
Shreyasi Kambale teaching Marathi at the Chinmaya Mission
Shreyasi Kambale teaching Marathi at the Chinmaya Mission

Marathi Class at the Chinmaya Mission in Chaska, MN

Shrine to Buddha at Sitagu Dhamma Vihara, Burmese Monastery
Shrine to Buddha at Sitagu Dhamma Vihara, Burmese Monastery
Shrine to Buddha at Sitagu Dhamma Vihara, Burmese Monastery

Shrine at Sitagu Dhamma Vihara in Chisago City, MN

Marquee for Unity-Church Unitarian
Marquee for Unity-Church Unitarian
Marquee for Unity-Church Unitarian

Unity Church—Unitarian in St. Paul, MN

St. George's Cathedral Sanctuary
St. George's Cathedral Sanctuary
St. George's Cathedral Sanctuary

Sanctuary at St. George's Greek Orthodox Church in St. Paul, MN

Friday Langar at Sikh Gurdwara, MN
Friday Langar at Sikh Gurdwara, MN
Friday Langar at Sikh Gurdwara, MN

Langar (communal meal) at the Sikh Society of Minnesota in Bloomington

Baha'i Center of Minneapolis, Collection of World Religions Teachings
Baha'i Center of Minneapolis, Collection of World Religions Teachings
Baha'i Center of Minneapolis, Collection of World Religions Teachings

Devotional Books at the Bahá'í Center of Minneapolis

Women engaged in their regular service of cooking for St. Dominic's Church, Northfield
Women engaged in their regular service of cooking for St. Dominic's Church, Northfield
Women engaged in their regular service of cooking for St. Dominic's Church, Northfield

Women cooking in preparation for festival celebrations at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in Northfield, MN

Picture of Buddha Statue
Picture of Buddha Statue
Picture of Buddha Statue

The Buddha who has moved with practitioners to various venues throughout the life of the Northfield Buddhist Meditation Center in Northfield, MN

The ECK Temple
The ECK Temple
The ECK Temple

The Temple of Eck in Chanhassen, MN

Minnesota Hindu Temple
Minnesota Hindu Temple
Minnesota Hindu Temple

The Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, MN

Ancestor Worship
Ancestor Worship
Ancestor Worship

Reverence for the Ancestors at Chùa Phât Ân Vietnamese Buddhist Temple and Association in Roseville, MN

New Temple Exterior
New Temple Exterior
New Temple Exterior

Watt Munisotaram, Cambodian Buddhist Temple in rural Hampton, MN

Wattanak Celebration
Wattanak Celebration
Wattanak Celebration

Wattanak Celebration at Watt Munisotaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Hampton, MN

Hu Plig Ceremony: A Little Good Fortune
Hu Plig Ceremony: A Little Good Fortune
Hu Plig Ceremony: A Little Good Fortune

Hmong Hu Plig Ceremony for Good Fortune in St. Paul Home

Minneapolis Friend's Meeting House <br />
& Mayim Rabim, Reconstructionist Synagogue
Minneapolis Friend's Meeting House <br />
& Mayim Rabim, Reconstructionist Synagogue
Minneapolis Friend's Meeting House & Mayim Rabim, Reconstructionist Synagogue

Minneapolis Friend's Meeting House and Mayim Rabim Reconstructionist Congegation in Minneapolis, MN

Prayer Service at Bethlehem Baptist Church
Prayer Service at Bethlehem Baptist Church
Prayer Service at Bethlehem Baptist Church

Congregation in Prayer at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN

Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior

Lake Superior, MN

Lonsdale, MN—September 21, 2016
Lonsdale, MN—September 21, 2016
Lonsdale, MN—September 21, 2016

One example of the rise in Islamophobic sentiments in recent years and the public nature of many of these expressions. This sign could be seen just outside a store located in Rice County, not far from Carleton College. Muslim communities in MN have experienced a range of troubling incidents in recent years, including the posting of offensive cartoons outside Somali businesses and homes in St. Cloud and the discovery of pig intensines and parts on the doorsteps and front doors of Somali homes and businesses.  

 About the Religious Diversity in Minnesota Initiative

The 2016 election has confirmed it anew: Minnesota is no outlier to the divisions of America. Like Americans generally, Minnesotans find themselves neighbors—even next door neighbors —with people they not only don’t know, but feel they can never understand.  The divides are racial, ethnic, economic, generational and geographical in nature, but they are increasingly and crucially religious. Talk of registering Muslim neighbors simply because of their religion has found disturbing traction in the mainstream of public discourse.  By turns, Evangelical Christians of a wide array of political, social, and theological positions are lumped together as though they think and act as a single entity. The particular circumstances, histories, and nuances in perspective that shape Minnesota's diverse communities are often lost in a sea of generalization.

At the same time as Minnesotans are like the nation as a whole, we are outliers in terms of our social and civic capacities to address these challenges.  Whether measured by electoral participation, volunteerism, charitable giving, Minnesota enjoys an enviable capacity for civic engagement and an ethos of neighborliness that, fragile as the might be in these times, can be commended and drawn upon as a powerful resource for healing divisions in the current climate.

The Religious Diversity in Minnesota Inititive aspires to address the challenges of religious difference by tapping into this ethos of neighborliness and nurturing it through accessible public scholarship that helps Minnesotans understand one another’s religious commitments in all their difference and commonality.We believe this endeavor to be all the more important as we continue to see profound changes in Minnesota’s religious landscape coupled with an increasingly charged political climate over religious and ethnic difference.

The visibility and pace of these changes have generated enormous tensions in civic life, as workplaces, public spaces, schoolrooms, hospitals, and courtrooms contend with new realities and unexamined assumptions. Minnesota’s religious and ethnic communities have found themselves, often for the first time, in the position of having to educate others about their religious beliefs and practices. Navigating cultural and religious difference presents on-going and ever-shifting challenges and we hope this project helps, in some small way, to address them. 

The Religious Diversity in Minnesota Initiative brings together scholars specialized in a range of religious traditions with Minnesota’s communities and professional organizations to help Minnesotans navigate challenges, promote greater religious literacy, foster nuanced and informed public conversation about and across religious difference, and provide publicly accessible web-based and local resources to support that effort. Rather than keep the rich knowledge and wealth of research within the confines of the academy, this project seeks to promote collaborations with community partners to help Minnesota communities access and leverage scholarly resources for public good.

Minnesota Hindu Milan Mandir when it was located in the a converted garage of the founder's private home in Eagan, MN.
Minnesota Hindu Milan Mandir when it was located in the a converted garage of the founder's private home in Eagan, MN.
Minnesota Hindu Milan Mandir when it was located in the a converted garage of the founder's private home in Eagan, MN.

Minnnesota Hindu Milan Mandir at its first location in a converted garage in Eagan, MN

Bat Mitzvah at Shir Tikvah Synagogue
Bat Mitzvah at Shir Tikvah Synagogue
Bat Mitzvah at Shir Tikvah Synagogue

Bat Mitzvah receieves blessing from Rabbi at Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis

Minnesota Eruv Map
Minnesota Eruv Map
Minnesota Eruv Map

St. Louis Park/Minneapolis Eruv Map, deliniating a ritually defined area in which observant Jews are permitted to carry on the Sabbath

Pastor Wal Reat of the Sudanese Congregation in Faribault
Pastor Wal Reat of the Sudanese Congregation in Faribault
Pastor Wal Reat of the Sudanese Congregation in Faribault

Pastor Wal Reat, at Nile Our Savior Lutheran Church, a Sudanese Congregation, in Faribault, MN

Living Word Christian Church, Fifth Service
Living Word Christian Church, Fifth Service
Living Word Christian Church, Fifth Service

Services at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, MN