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Interfaith Relations in the United States: Toward a Multilevel Community Psychology Approach


Correspondence to: Mark M. McCormack, Peabody #90, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37203-5721, USA.



Interest in religion within the field of community psychology has steadily emerged within the last three decades. This interest has focused almost exclusively on the social benefits of religion, glossing over the often-contentious nature of religious life and the ways in which religious individuals and institutions can disrupt healthy human and community development. Considering the recent surge of interfaith conflicts and discriminatory practices targeting religious minorities in communities across the United States, it is imperative that community psychologists begin to examine relevant trends in interfaith relations and potential directions for action research and intervention. This paper serves as the beginning point of just such an examination, proposing a multilevel model for addressing the microsystemic, mesosystemic, and macrosystemic levels of interfaith phenomena. More specifically, I present interfaith contact, congregation-based community partnerships, and theological belief systems as particularly relevant to interfaith community research and intervention. Finally, I detail an interfaith organization that embodies these dimensions of interfaith relations and provides a concrete example of how a multilevel action research model may be effectively employed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.