Group brings different faiths together in the Piedmont Triad

Buckley Report
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Akir Khan has a simple question: “What is a Muslim American doing at a church on Sunday morning, broadcasting on Facebook Live?”

The answer is nearly as simple: Bringing people together. The execution of it takes some real effort.

But for that, too, Khan has a simple answer.

“We're Americans, this is what we're born to do.”

Khan is chairman of the Piedmont Interfaith Council and, along with other members of the council like Pastor Jay Hilbinger, of First Lutheran in Greensboro, they are working to unite people from the myriad of faiths in the Triad. It's something Hilbinger says is a natural thing to do.

“Especially in the Abrahamic faiths - Muslims, Christians, Jews - share that common story in Genesis that says every human being begins life, enters this world, created in the image of God,” Hilbinger said. “That's a tremendous point to begin from in terms of relationships getting to know one another and understanding each other.”

That understanding can be tested though. Take the “joke,” as the family calls it, about Khan’s father’s arrival in Greensboro, years before Akir was born.

“My dad came to Greensboro in '67, '68, and the joke was, when he was here, the joke is he saw a black bathroom and a white bathroom - for blacks only and a whites only - and he looked at himself and said, 'Which one do I go into, since I'm brown,’” Akir said.

The Khans got past that – Akir’s father spent 35 years as a professor at North Carolina A&T – and now the son looks to spread the same optimistic view of America to others.

“I think the more people understand why we're Americans, why we believe in the Constitution, why we have each other's back and support each other, I think that's the reason (we can bring our community together),” Akir said. “I think some people almost began to lose their Americanism, after the election, and realize that we're all taxpayers, we're all in this together.”

“I'm always optimistic - that's part of what faith is about,” Hilbinger said. “Jesus kept it pretty simple and that is, love God and all that God loves.”

See how the Piedmont Interfaith Council works in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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