A Publication of WTVP

The Interfaith Alliance works to find common ground to protect faith and freedom for all.

Turn on any evening newscast and you’ll discover the line separating religion from politics has become increasingly blurred. With the polarizing effects of extremism wearing the boundary dangerously thin on all sides, many have come to equate religious beliefs with partisan politics. Recognizing a threat to the integrity of both faith and freedom, a group of concerned spiritual leaders of varying beliefs established the Interfaith Alliance in 1994 to “celebrate religious freedom and to challenge the bigotry and hatred arising from religious and political extremism infiltrating American politics.”

Since then, the grassroots activist organization has built upon the shared values and passions of its diverse supporters to champion individual rights and promote policies equally protecting religion and democracy. Today, the Interfaith Alliance boasts a membership of 185,000 from more than 70 different faith traditions—or none at all—and has spawned more than two dozen affiliate chapters, including one in Peoria.

Founded around the turn of the millennium, the Central Illinois Chapter of the Interfaith Alliance unites close to 50 area citizens of more than a dozen faith backgrounds monthly to discuss sociopolitical issues and find common ground. “We’re not trying to change anyone’s faith. We’re trying to build a harmony between the faith traditions,” asserts Dave Weiman, president of the local Interfaith Alliance affiliate. “We try to build on what is good about each of our faith traditions and what is in common with our faith traditions.”

An important part of every meeting, Weiman says, is referring to the group’s celebrations calendar, which lists all of the major religious holidays observed by various faiths that month and includes each faith’s individual translation of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “An important part of our focus and our mission is to work on the Golden Rule,” he notes. “All faith traditions… have the same kind of statement… We all have the same major goal.”

While taking time to educate members on their peers’ respective convictions and the values that bond them together, the Interfaith Alliance also draws in esteemed public leaders and professionals to speak on salient topics in the community or around the world, from domestic violence to same-sex marriage to immigration reform. Previous presenters have included author Mark Liebenow, who shared his experiences of discovering the transcendence of nature and dealing with grief, and organizers of Don’t Shoot Peoria, who will provide an update on the anti-gun violence initiative at the chapter’s June 13th meeting. Most importantly, Weiman adds, the chapter’s regular gatherings serve as an educational resource for faith leaders and followers, bringing together a community of like-minded citizens committed to justice and freedom.

Whether you practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or another faith, Weiman welcomes anyone eager to learn more about the various religious and cultural traditions that make our communities vibrant. “I think all of the faiths’ traditional leaders in the community know that there’s a need for interfaith dialogue,” he states. “There should be a lot of common ground between faith traditions, and we should build on that common ground and not let the differences in theology ruin our efforts to bring forth a more peaceful and free and just world.” iBi

The Central Illinois Chapter of the Interfaith Alliance meets the second Thursday of every month at the Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria. For more information, call (309) 643-5638 or visit To learn more about the Interfaith Alliance, visit