On December 15, 2014, a man walked into the Lindt Café on Martins Place in Sydney, Australia, and opened fire “in the name of Allah,” killing two innocent people. In the aftermath of that fatal shooting, individuals in Sydney and throughout Australia posted a simple hashtag on social media: #Iwillridewithyou. The purpose of this hashtag was to alert Muslims, at risk of retaliation over the attack, know that they had allies ready to accompany them on buses and trains. It also sent a message that Australians did not blame all Muslims for a hateful act committed by one individual who invoked Allah.
Andrea Putting was so moved by this action that she initiated a movement of her own: Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony. She invited groups to gather on the following 15th of December to have conversations about religious diversity–and harmony–over a “cuppa” and some chocolate. The movement became so popular that Chocolate and Coffee Days are now held 365 days a year, worldwide!
The Chocolate and Coffee Days website provides insights on how a shared conversation over a cup of coffee and dessert can promote Religious Harmony in a variety of settings, including work, clubs and organizations, corporate spaces, with friends and family, at places of worship, and as an individual (think social media!). The site also provides resources like cross-cultural versions of the Golden Rule, prayers of peace from various faith traditions, and videos of events, gatherings of world religious leaders, and talks by Putting, herself. While these resources may be enough to help you generate ideas, Putting has also graciously included a request form for further information and resources to help you create your own Chocolate and Coffee Day event.
Simply listening to those who are, in some way, different from us helps to reduce prejudice. To reduce religious prejudice and increase Religious Harmony, why not “talk about it over coffee” with a Chocolate and Coffee Day of your own?
The project has expanded to include Chocolate and Coffee Breaks for the everyday opportunity to break down barriers and build community. These cover a broader diversity of situations beyond religion.
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