This page features a collection of videos for K-12 students and teachers, based on highlights from the Religious Worlds institute and other Interfaith Center of New York programs. There are 12 videos, ranging from about 3 to 30 minutes each — just right for classroom use, student assignments, or your own background research.
You may want to start with First Amendment guidelines for religious diversity education, or jump down to videos based on panel discussions with faith leaders and site visits to houses of worship. The videos will help your students engage with the everyday life of American religious diversity.
First Amendment Guidelines
Excerpts from seminars with Dr. Charles Haynes, founder of the Freedom Forum’s Religious Freedom Center, and a leading voice in policy debates about the role of religion in America’s public schools. Dr. Haynes shares his thoughts on the appropriate place of religion in schools, the First Amendment principles guiding religious diversity education, and the broad significance of America’s experiment with religious liberty. Essential viewing for K-12 teachers and students in a religiously diverse society.
Panel Discussions and Faith-Based Reflections
Muslim Women’s Perspectives on Hijab
Relationships with Gods and Spirits
Christian, Lukumi, and Hindu religious leaders discuss their relationships with diverse deities. Their reflections on gods and spirits will help students understand the deeply human realities of religious life.
Speakers: Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, Church of the Incarnation; Iyalorisha Amma Oloriwaa!, Egbe Iwa Rites of Passage Program; Iyalorisha Marinieves Alba, Educator and Activist; Vanita Yogeshwar, Shree Ram Mandir; Davanie Singhroy, Shaanti Bhavan Mandir. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers)
Diversity Within Faith Traditions and Communities
Religious leaders discuss the diversity within their faith traditions and communities. Their reflections show that there’s no one way to be a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a member of any other religious tradition.
Speakers: Rabbi Joshua Stanton, East End Temple; Heather Miller, The Multitudes; Dr. Seth Zuihō Segall, Zen Buddhist Priest and Psychologist; Dr. Hussein Rashid, Religious Literacy Consultant. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers)
Faith-Based Civic Engagement and Community Service
Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders reflect on the importance of civic engagement and community service, sharing faith-based perspectives on immigrants’ rights, economic justice, and other pressing social issues.
Speakers: Rabbi Ari Hart, Uri L’Tzedek – Awaken to Justice; Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, The Village Zendo; Tom Dobbins, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Aminta Kilawan-Narine, Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers)
Conversion and Spiritual Transformation
Stories of spiritual transformation, from an Episcopal priest raised Southern Baptist, a Reform rabbi raised Lutheran, a Kali devotee raised as a Vaishnavite Hindu, and a Lukumi priest raised Catholic.
Speakers: Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, Church of the Incarnation; Rabbi Heidi Hoover, B’ShERT: Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple; Karma Acharya Vijah Ramjattan, United Madrassi Association; Iyalorisha Amma Oloriwaa!, Egbe Iwa Rites of Passage Program. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers)
How Does Interfaith Dialogue Impact Religious Identity?
Catholic and Muslim interfaith activists discuss the ways their relationships with members of other faith communities have shaped their personal faith and religious identity.
Speakers: Tom Dobbins, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, Manhattan College. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers)
New York City Religious Leaders Reflect on the 9/11 Attack
In a press conference held by the Interfaith Center of New York on September 13, 2001, diverse NYC religious leaders respond to the 9/11 attack — giving voice to the city’s trauma, and standing together against Islamophobia. Essential viewing for students and others seeking to understand faith-based responses to violent extremism.
Speakers include representatives of leading congregations and faith-based organizations. (watch on YouTube for names, affiliations, and timestamps of individual speakers)
Site Visits and Experiential Programs
Brooklyn Vodou: Where the Spirits Reside
Join a group of K-12 teachers as they visit a Haitian-American Vodou temple in Brooklyn. Includes excerpts from a symposium with faith leaders and a Vodou ceremony (with subtitles for Kreyol songs). Great way for students and others to gain a richer understanding of this widely misunderstood religion.
Produced with the Cultural, Spiritual, and Traditional Center and the AfroAtlantic Theologies and Treaties Institute. (watch on YouTube for timestamps of individual speakers and key moments)
Veve for Erzulie: Drawing Down Spirits in Vodou
Leading New York Vodou priest Houngan Gran Bwa draws a veve for Erzulie Freda – spirit of love and feminine power, and one of the most beloved deities in the Vodou pantheon. In a presentation following the veve ceremony, Gran Bwa explains the role of the veve as a bridge between the human and spiritual worlds. The video includes subtitles for Kreyol songs, making the artistry and spirituality of Haitian Vodou accessible to English speaking viewers.
Ganesh Chaturthi: Celebrating Ganesh’s Birthday at the Hindu Temple Society of North America
Visit the annual Ganesh Chaturthi procession at New York City’s oldest and largest Hindu temple. Hear reflections from community members and civic leaders. Great way for students and others to understand Hindu devotion to Lord Ganesh, “the remover of obstacles.”
Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
Visit the annual Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Hear reflections on the sacredness of nature from faith leaders, everyday New Yorkers, and their pets.