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Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America Hardcover – August 14, 2012

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Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America + Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807077488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807077481
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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.

Customer Reviews

The book is well written and easily accessible.
Julie C.
Patel's insight into how we can effectively address prejudice against Muslims in America is a crucial step forward.
Michael D. Allen
Most profound for me are his suggestions for an interfaith understanding of freedom of religion.
Gregory Halbe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joshua M. Z. Stanton on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By Sal Hansen on August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ahriana Platten on March 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. In my case, the book"Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America" by Eboo Patel, resonates deeply.

This is the book I want my children to read, the book I want my friends to read, and the book I want my spiritual community to read. Why? Because the message delivered is one I believe can change our world - starting in our own country.

Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that "brings together young people of different religious and moral traditions for cooperative service and dialogue around shared values," according to their website. He is a man with a mission to teach a diverse world of people how to live together on one planet. The book is captivating.

The author invites us into numerous stories...about the media's influence on our perspectives, about groups that have suffered prejudice in early America, about how one man made can make a difference, about seminary students and the importance of learning the distinction between concept and application. There is so much to learn from this book. It's meaty and rich - and full of names and situations you will recognize. However, for me, the most important thing Patel does is reframe our country and its purpose. He made me feel proud to be an American at a time when polarization and politics have left me skeptical about the future of our nation.

As a parent with four children ranging in age from 11 to 32, I have listened to my kid's opinions about the USA for many years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rick Love on 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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