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All Rights Reserved 2000 - revised 2001 
(Only the Preface and Table of Contents are currently available electronically)


The most universal quality is diversity. 

Montaigne, 1580

We in Madison, Wisconsin are truly blessed.  This is a deeply spiritual place, rich in diversity.   Mashkiki-odena (“Medicine Town”), as  the Native Americans called this area, is the ideal place in the world to begin a healing and spiritual endeavor: a course to train individuals to effectively interact with our increasingly pluralistic society without losing their own religious or cultural identity. They will be what I call Interfaith Ambassadors.

This workbook is intended to cover as much of the complexities of our diversity by giving basic information about religious and spiritual resources. 

An attempt is made to give short explanations about most of the religious and faith resources.  In some cases, this succeeds.  However, full libraries of religious materials are available on the depth of history, theology, practice, worship, etc.  So, there is no attempt to be thorough.  As a guide, the Workbook gives information so the reader can explore further.  If this is being given in a class, then guest speakers can supplement the material.

In organizing this workbook, J. Gorton Melton's "Encyclopedia of American Religions" (Triumph Books, 1991) provided the most assistance.  In the three-volume set, he divided religions into "families."  This idea is utilized here, but not fully and some departures are unique to our purposes.  For a list of other sources used, please consult the bibliography.

There is no question that Christianity provides the largest source of spirituality, locally, nationally and globally.  Within Christianity, there is a tremendous diversity – over 30,000 denominations.  The larger and unique denominations are included in these materials.

There are many spiritual resources that do not fall neatly into categories.  To be fair, these may be found under one of several headings: "New Age" or "Philosophical/Mystical" or “Universal” or "Secondary Resources."

I hope this workbook, whether used in a classroom setting or through some other means, will be the beginning of a journey into a deeper faith for the individual who dares to move forward.  As on any journey, some warning needs to be given.  It is recommended that when exploring, one should follow one's own heart.  One must be open-minded, but proceed cautiously.  Most spiritual resources have good intentions, but there are no guarantees.  If one is earnestly seeking truth, it will be found.

- Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock



(first edition)

Preface                                                                                                   iii

Acknowledgements                                                                                 v

Introduction                                                                                           vii

Purpose and goals - building an interfaith vocabulary – top ten religions - class guidelines – principles of dialogue – Spirit Quest

Chapter 1 – Religious Freedom & Interfaith Awareness                          1

Persecution – universal rights – interfaith mission - awareness  – discussion: Freedom of Religion and Religious Tolerance

Chapter 2 – Indigenous Cultures & Sacred Earth Traditions                    24

Native American religions, other native cultures, European folk traditions –  Wicca and Modern Paganism – discussion: Tradition, Culture or Religion

Chapter 3 – Traditions from the East                                                        39

Hinduism - Jainism - Buddhism – Sikhism – Chinese religions – discussion: East/West philosophy/religion

Chapter 4 – Middle Eastern Sources                                                        57

Judaism – Islam – others - discussion: only one Monotheism?

Chapter 5 – Apostolic Christianity                                                           72

Early Christians – historic succession – 3 or 7 Councils - Roman Catholicism – Eastern Orthodox – Anglicans and others – discussion:  exclusivism vs inclusivism

Chapter 6 – Traditional Protestants                                                           81

Covenants and Confessions - Lutherans – Methodists – Presbyterians – Reformed  Pietism – Baptists –- Pentecostalism-  discussion: ecumenism and ecumenical ministry

Chapter 7 – Other Christians                                                                     93

Holiness - Adventists – Mormons– Christian Science – Unity – discussion: who defines faith?

Chapter 8 – Universalism & The Primordial Tradition                               101

Baha’i  – Sufism – Unitarian Universalism – Theosophy – discussion: pluralism and new tradition

Chapter 9 – The New Age?                                                                        110

New Thought Communities - New Age Groups – Interfaith Churches – Psychic Energy Work - discussion: syncretism

Chapter 10 – Metaphysical, Mystical and Fraternal                                   117

Mysticism - secret societies – Rosicrucians – Theosophy – Freemasonry – Martial Arts - discussion: clubs or pseudo-religion

Chapter 11 – MRMs and NRMs and Cults                                                126

Marginal Religious Movements – New Religious Movements – Cults and Cult Awareness – discussion: dysfunctional groups

Chapter 12 – Other Resources and Issues                                                  137

Atheism/agnosticism - schools – counseling  – retreat centers - ministries – finding local resources

Conclusion – The Work of Interfaith Ambassadors                                    147

Honoring others, honoring ourselves – prayer – litany of thanksgiving

Appendix: Global Statements of 2000                                                       155

Selected Bibliography                                                                                167

Worksheets                                                                                                171

10 Vocabulary and 10 Homework                          


ORDERING AND COSTS - At this time, the Workbook is available to those who take the Interfaith Ambassador Certification Course. It will be made available to others this winter. Email us if interested.   

The patricipants of the first certification classes gave the Workbook the highest evaluative grade of any aspect of the course. It has been favorably reviewed by spiritual and religious leaders.

Interfaith Ambassador Certification Program

Local Article on Interfaith Ambassador Program

Midwest Classes

Online Correspondence Course

International Society of Interfaith Ambassadors


Inroads Interfaith Ministry