Kevin Singer, co-founder and director of Neighborly Faith, says ISPU is a vital partner in the work to bring Christians and Muslims together across America. “We use [ISPU research] all the time to make a case for loving our Muslim neighbors as they really are, not who we think they are.”
ISPU joined Neighborly Faith for several events at Christian colleges in 2019, including a two-day conference at Wheaton College where Evangelical students gathered from across the country to learn how to build meaningful relationships with their Muslim neighbors.
“It is vital that we reach young Evangelicals and help them better understand who American Muslims really are,” Kevin says. “At Wheaton, ISPU shared data on such things as the diversity of Muslims in America, information on why some Muslim women choose to wear hijab, and the best ways to combat Islamophobia.”
ISPU research shows that white Evangelicals are less likely than people of other faiths to know a Muslim, and they are more likely to believe Islamophobic stereotypes. So, Neighborly Faith administers surveys to see how attendees are impacted by what they hear. Among those who identified as conservative Evangelical students, 49% had neutral or somewhat negative attitudes toward Muslims coming into the conference. Afterward, only 6% remained neutral, and none had a negative attitude.
ISPU Board Member Gasby Brown says, “As an Evangelical Christian, I know how important it is to educate our youth about the diversity of America, particularly about similarly passionate people of faith.” Our next generation will have the opportunity to build a fairer, more compassionate, more robust America. That is why ISPU’s participation in bridge-building events with Evangelical organizations like Neighborly Faith is so crucial.
“For many Evangelical students, it will be their first encounter with Muslims or with unbiased facts about Islam. There has never been a more critical moment for these encounters to occur,” Gasby says.