Strangers As Neighbors: Religious Lanugage and the Response to Immigrants in the United States
With funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Fairfield University’s conducted its Strangers as Neighbors: Religious Language and the Response to Immigrants pilot project, from August 2008 to July 2009.
The project aimed for faith communities to agree on common language for speaking about migration, drawing upon some of the shared sensibilities of religious language and words like “neighbor,” “brother,” “sister,” “pilgrim,” and similar concepts that have more nuanced and welcoming connotation than “migrant” or “newcomer” and then to disseminate that common language across different faith communities. The study strongly suggests that a faith-based perspective allows for a more collaborative discursive environment, which could shift us away from the usual “winner-takes-all” atmosphere more commonly found in a highly charged political discourse.
This results of this project led to the next phase, Strangers as Neighbors on Long Island funded by the Hagedorn Foundation, which is helping to develop a model for discussing difficult social issues, such as immigration, within a faith-based framework that will be transferable to other regions around the country.