JRLC in Context

JRLC is not — nor should it be — the only important interfaith organization working on social justice issues in Minnesota. Organizations such as ISAIAH and SPIN (St. Paul Interfaith Network) have developed a robust presence. Additionally, JRLC's four member organizations each participate in separate interfaith work, both for advocacy and for educational purposes. There is so much going on that Rabbi Tamar Grimm, JRLC and Jewish Community Relations Council board member, wishes there were more opportunities to learn about other JRLC organization traditions in the midst of their legislative work and emphasizes that her previous interfaith work has shown her that political activism and dialogue play important roles in the religious sphere.1 

  1. Rabbi Tamar Grimm, personal correspondence, May 9, 2019

Additionally, while the JRLC’s existence is significant due to its continued ability to organize partnerships between the main facets of the Abrahamic faith, there is potential for the inclusion of a broader range of faith traditions. Currently, the Minnesota Council of Churches engages in interfaith work with other Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and, significantly, indigenous groups, showing the ability to find ideological commonalities and carry out advocacy work with a larger subset of the Minnesotan religious population. The members of the JRLC interviewed were open to the idea of inclusion of more faith traditions, but it is not prioritized. The process is long and complex, with extended ramifications for future decision-making procedures. Expansion of the organizational members of the JRLC would be most likely to occur if significant population changes in Minnesota took place, and if this group had a sufficient ideological and organizational overlap, the primary barrier to the inclusion of certain groups such as the Buddhists2 .

  1. C. DeYoung, personal communication, May 10, 2019; K. Powell, personal communication, May 7, 2019


Breakdown of Religion Demographics in Minnesota1 

  1. Pew Research Center

The development and continued success of the JRLC in Minnesota shows the continuing progress towards a more accepting version of religious pluralism, one that has changed considerably since the founding of the first American colonies. As the first state-wide interfaith advocacy organization, the JRLC's longevity has a positive example for other similar efforts. The role of the coalition in shaping the Minnesota landscape shows the power of interfaith cooperation and compromise to act as a moral force for good, ultimately providing wider societal benefits.