By Kenneth Best for UConn Today
The “UConn Reads: Sacred Ground” exhibition at the William Benton Museum of Art is based on Eboo Patel’s 2012 book Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, which outlines a vision of America where people of all faiths can make a country where diverse traditions can thrive side by side.
The exhibit opened just days before the executive order on immigration banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim majority nations.
Patel, born in India to a Muslim family and raised in Chicago, is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, which builds the interfaith movement on university campuses. In Sacred Ground, he writes that suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims has increased, rather than subsided, and alarmist rhetoric once relegated to the fringes of political discourse has become mainstream with pundits and politicians routinely invoking the specter of Islam as a menacing, deeply anti-American force.
“There are a million competing priorities on college campuses, and so our goal is to make interfaith work a higher priority,” Patel told the Religion & Politics websitewhen his book was published. “Our theory of change is that if you can inspire a critical mass of college students to do this … then the chances of them being interfaith leaders throughout their lives, whether they go into college chaplaincy or medicine, is much higher.”
In the Benton exhibit, organized by award-winning Massachusetts photographer Diana Barker Price, several international artists share their own visions of pluralism through their art, accompanied by excerpts from Patel’s book.