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Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America [Kindle Edition]

Eboo Patel
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

There is no better time to stand up for your values than when they are under attack.
In the decade following the attacks of 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims has increased rather than subsided. Alarmist, hateful rhetoric once relegated to the fringes of political discourse has now become frighteningly mainstream, with pundits and politicians routinely invoking the specter of Islam as a menacing, deeply anti-American force.
In Sacred Ground, author and renowned interfaith leader Eboo Patel says this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims but a challenge to the very idea of America. Patel shows us that Americans from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. have been “interfaith leaders,” illustrating how the forces of pluralism in America have time and again defeated the forces of prejudice. And now a new generation needs to rise up and confront the anti-Muslim prejudice of our era. To this end, Patel offers a primer in the art and science of interfaith work, bringing to life the growing body of research on how faith can be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division and sharing stories from the frontlines of interfaith activism.
Patel asks us to share in his vision of a better America—a robustly pluralistic country in which our commonalities are more important than our differences, and in which difference enriches, rather than threatens, our religious traditions. Pluralism, Patel boldly argues, is at the heart of the American project, and this visionary book will inspire Americans of all faiths to make this country a place where diverse traditions can thrive side by side.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Eboo Patel is a remarkable young man with the wisdom to seek truth and the courage to speak it. One of America’s foremost advocates and practitioners of interfaith understanding, he has written a book that combines timely social commentary with compelling history and a wealth of personal anecdotes. Sacred Ground is a refreshing, thought-provoking, myth-smashing, and deeply patriotic exploration of American identity and ideals.”
—Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

Sacred Ground is simultaneously a chronicle of religious tensions in post-9/11 America and an account of how to create, through trial and error and critical self-reflection, the most successful interfaith movement in the country.  Patel probes like a professor, inspires like a preacher, and writes like a poet.  I really loved this book; it is a tale that is truly hard to put down.”
—Robert D. Putnam, author of American Grace
“Interfaith cooperation is one of America’s founding ideals. It still sets us apart from much of the world. Eboo Patel has lived that value and, in this book, spreads that good word. Uplifting and invaluable, Sacred Ground is essential reading for our polarized era.” 
—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin
“Eboo Patel has been a transformative force in our young and tumultuous century. And he has an utterly original experience of what robust religious identity can mean in modern lives. With this book, he opens the idea of ‘inter-faith’ into a vision of America that is practically informative, refreshingly challenging, and full of hope.”
—Krista Tippett, host of public radio’s On Being

“At a time when ignorance and suspicion are holding us back from building true community with our neighbors, Eboo Patel offers a light in the darkness. He challenges the bigotry and intolerance that is seeping into our political rhetoric, reminding us that America is a country built on the pillars of pluralism and tolerance. In both Sacred Ground and his wonderful interfaith work, Eboo offers an opportunity for us to move to higher ground in our relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to play our part in building a ‘beloved community for all people,’ both in the United States, and around the world.”
—Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics
“Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, lets his love for his work and his country shine through in this brief but charming introduction to the importance of interfaith work in America… [H]is expertise and blend of compelling personal anecdotes with researched argumentation makes this work an accessible and inspiring introduction to the meaning and practice of pluralism.”
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith. He was a member of President Obama’s inaugural faith council, is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, and public radio, and speaks frequently about interfaith cooperation on college campuses. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two boys.

Product Details

  • File Size: 396 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0807077488
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007JCD9G4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,033 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Ground: The Interfaith Triangle September 23, 2012
One of my greatest joys in working with Eboo Patel is watching him think. He is the sharpest wit in most of the rooms he enters, and if you manage to catch him with a surprising or unusual question after a public talk or small-group gathering, you can see his mind whirring as he finds not only a meaningful answer, but also a more compelling framework for your question.

In Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Eboo gives us all the gift of seeing him think. It seems apparent that he is in the process of re-framing not merely a question, but the premises of the entire interfaith movement, of which he has long been a key part.

The core of his new thinking comes out in his chapter, "The Science of Interfaith Cooperation." Reflecting humbly on a moment when he found himself unable to respond adequately to a funder's request for measurable outcomes, he poses a set of questions that the Interfaith Youth Core has already begun answering, and to which all members of the interfaith movement must attend: "How do we measure effectiveness in interfaith work? How do we track progress? What outcomes are we after, and how do we know we are reaching them?"

In response to this question, Eboo looks to quantitative, rather than qualitative evidence -- a major shift not in his own personal research and reading, but in his description of the interfaith movement and why it counts. Therein lies a gem, which may in time spawn a transformation within the interfaith movement and how it understands itself: the interfaith triangle. Says Patel,

"The more I studied this area, the more I started to see attitudes, knowledge, and relationships as three sides of a triangle.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Eboo Patel is a visionary for our time. He sees potential and beauty of America's religious diversity and argues eloquently that interfaith cooperation is part of America's backbone. He offers contemporary articulation of the threats to and possibilities of interfaith bridgebuilding in America today, and an inspiring prescription for action for colleges and university, students and parents.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Review of Eboo Patel's "Sacred Ground" December 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sacred Ground is a profoundly refreshing look at how faith intersects with American ideals, or more accurately how American ideals should protect everyone's faith. Sacred ground refers to the fundamental American commitment to freedom of religion. Patel describes the promise of America as pluralism - equal rights for a multicultural society .

Following the Harvard University Scholar Diana Eck, Patel makes an important distinction between diversity and pluralism: "diversity is simply the fact of people from different backgrounds living in close quarters. Baghdad is diverse. Belfast is diverse. Bosnia is diverse. Each of those places ... had also experienced serious religious violence... Where diversity is a fact, pluralism is an achievement - it means deliberate and positive engagement of diversity" (pg. 70-71).

Sacred Ground will equip you to positively engage with diversity. It will help you live with the shift of colors and creeds in your neighborhoods. Patel will help you overcome the poison of prejudice and work towards the achievement of pluralism.

Patel brilliantly illustrates how the forces of prejudice have squared off against the forces of pluralism repeatedly in our history. He notes the famous and obvious example of the Civil Rights movement in the 60's. But he also draws out important parallels between the strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the 60's and present day Islamophobia. I was shocked to read of the religious prejudice and discrimination faced by Catholics only half a century ago.

Patel writes about the "science of interfaith cooperation." He points out that social scientists measure diversity in three ways: through people's attitudes, knowledge and relationships.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Connections October 26, 2012
Eboo Patel's reflections on what kind of country we are and what we aspire to be are thoughtful and lucid in his book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Using examples of his work as founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, Patel presents the ways in which tolerance and understanding can lead to building a stronger America, reinforced by the strength of our connections with those in our community who are different from ourselves in one form or another. The increase in divisive rhetoric that expresses prejudice calls for a response. Pluralism has been an important element of the United States from our beginning, and Patel writes a compelling story of how by coming together we can reinforce that value and become a better nation.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Interfaith Youth Core November 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderfully honest account from Eboo Patel, a Muslim, concerning his feelings, perceptions, and life as an American and who founded the Interfaith Youth Core. He wrote,

"The idea is that serving others is a common value to all traditions-- including secular ones-- and when religiously diverse young people engage in volunteer projects together, they become both committed to the cause of interfaith cooperation and ambassadors for its importance."

Patel, Eboo (2012-08-14). Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America (p. xii). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read.
Excellent book. Well written.
Published 18 days ago by N Rush
1.0 out of 5 stars Eboo Patel KMWASA translation kiss my white Anglo Saxon ass ...
Eboo Patel KMWASA translation kiss my white Anglo Saxon ass

You Multicultural treasonous co-hort of Obama, I despise you and Islam

I learned all I needed to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Frank Tillman
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and challenging on working for pluralism
Patel is always a clear and thoughtful writer. This book develops the fundamental approach to interfaith relationships that he has developed over his many years leading the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by D. Andrew Kille
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put it down!
There are particular books that speak profoundly to a reader's heart, more often than not because that heart resonates with the heart of the writer. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ahriana Platten
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done look at pluralism and America
Great book on pluralism. Although it doesn't mention the intercultural competency model, it seems to work with in its framework. Read more
Published 12 months ago by andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Interfaith Cooperation
I led a study group that used some other material from Eboo Patel. I ordered Sacred Ground to supplement what I was already using and found the book to be quite useful as we... Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Hollinger-L
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Necessary Reading
This is an outstanding book - one that everyone should read and then read again. Mr. Patel has a message everyone should told about. Pluralism is just necessary in this world.
Published 14 months ago by IrishB17
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and great service!
The book is a great and interesting read for anyone that is interested in the role of religion/mainly Islam in the current political sphere. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Lovely_lobo
5.0 out of 5 stars more than a great read!
A compelling analysis and charge to all who care about the quality and fabric of our glorious, throbbingly vibrant culture. Mabuhay!
Published 18 months ago by JS
1.0 out of 5 stars Cute Naive Book by Someone Reaping the Rewards of Secularism
The thesis behind this book is so naive that it's almost cute. I say almost, because the natural extension of his system of clan-based identities (almost all religions claim their... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Arnie Layne
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More About the Author

Named by US News & World Report as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. Author of the books "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America" (Beacon Press, 2012), and "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation" (Beacon Press, 2010) which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion,Eboo is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, NPR, and CNN. He served on President Obama's inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He was an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world, and was recently awarded the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, an award given to an individual to enhance awareness of the crucial role of religious dialogue in the pursuit of peace. Today, Eboo lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz Mansuri, and their two sons.

"With "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America," Eboo Patel establishes himself as the preeminent voice of the interfaith movement." -Paul Chaffee, The Interfaith Observer

To hear more from Eboo, follow him on Twitter @EbooPatel and "Like" him on Facebook at

Visit Interfaith Youth Core's website at "Like" them on Facebook at and follow them on Twitter @ifyc.

Photo credit: Chris Popio, 2012.

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