Religion Sector 3.0
Today, building on current conditions and perspectives, we find ourselves at Religion Sector 3.0.
First, there was Religion Sector 1.0, “The Church on the Town Square.” Then came Religion Sector 2.0, “Walls of Separation.” The United States has transitioned from “the church” to a multitude of congregations of a diversity of faiths, scattered away from “the town square.”
Progressively, certainly by the 1950’s, the subsequent “walls of separation” were twofold. First, came the very separate existence of congregations, each from the other. Even congregations of common faith were scattered by distance as they spread themselves across the landscape.
Second came the increasing imposition of the “wall” as a barrier between “religion” and “state.” Segments, in the religion sector and the civic sectors, promoted the rationale that society would be best served if a wall separated religion from society. This was reflected in the life of the individual and in the religion sector core institution, the congregation. The Religion Sector was ad hoc, fragmented and marginalized, as such, projected as outside of society.
A range of factors contributed to a 21st century longing for a society in which both people of religious faith and religion institutions were not separated from each other, and in which their faith was acknowledged within society along with other personal practices and organized expressions of personal identity.
There was also a significant, long sought effort to recapture the “Congregation Based Resources” (CBR), so intrinsically a part of the fabric of community life within the Religion Sector 1.0 society.
This never fully ceased, but the benefits provided by congregations were hampered and significantly diminished in the Religion Sector 2.0 society. All this, in a society with growing needs for the sharing of resources to support a healthy, educated, safe and civil society.
ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION – It was the historic insight of the nation’s founders that religion had a unique place in a democratic society, yet a place. For them it was a mutually beneficial place, an alignment defined as not too close to be entangled, but not too far to be unengaged and unprotected.
Religion Sector 3.0 emerged from a project initiated by the Peninsula Community Foundation to transition the religion realm from its ad hoc structure to a designed sector and from a marginalized status to an appropriate alignment within the full society. The project centered on “Regional Clergy Engagement” and successfully resulted in the unprecedented capacity for the engagement of all clergy, the chief professional of the religion sector’s core institution, the congregation.
As the project director, I staffed a series of grants to test the viability of the project outcomes at various locations around the United States and even in China. My year-long consultation in conjunction with the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, including my co-coordination and presentation at a conference in conjunction with the Expo on “Religion in China,” was perhaps the most striking expression of the significant scope of the emerging Religion Sector 3.0 era.
In a paced, regionally based progression, the Religion Sector structural components and methodology continued to emerge and the alignments they fostered were tested and refined.
“Regional Clergy Engagement” provides the means which links the Religion Sector clergy with the professional leadership of the civic sectors – government, education, human services and business. Clergy relationships expanded to include the elected leadership – local, county, regional, state and national.
Religion Sector 3.0 conversations and dialogues emerged with representation from the Religion Sector and each of the civic sectors. They elevated Religion Sector 2.0 vocabulary, language, infrastructure, concepts, and attitudes. This extended the rich history of shared values and collaborative partnerships, congregation with congregation and congregations with civic sectors institutions.
Buoyed by a 21st century multi-culturalism, differences in faith were honored, awareness expanded and, with certain pertinent exceptions, new summits of relationships were affirmed and sustained.
The design framework of the Religion Sector serves to advance the nature of multi-faith relations and the alignment of religion in society, impacting individual lives and the institutions in society. Essential to this process, and an outcome of the Dialogue and Discussion process and the development of civic sectors’ partnerships,was my role in creating Trainings in Multi-Faith Awareness for individuals in the institutions in all sectors and a Religion Sector Glossary.
For clergy and congregations and civic sectors’ leaders and institutions, recognition of a shared community fabric of humanitarian values and an awareness of vast constituent needs and resources, prompted renewed norms of reciprocity to achieve a more perfect union.
Rabbi Jay Miller RELIGION SECTOR 3.0
1.0 On the Town Square 2.0 Walls of Separation
3.0 Alignment: Among Congregations – Within Society