May 2, 2023
New Video Brings Muslim, Evangelical Christian Influencers to the Table to Bridge the Divide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Collaboration between Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Define American aims to address misconceptions and stereotypes
LOS ANGELES, CA — Narrative change nonprofit Define American and advocacy organization the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) today released Finding Common Ground: A Muslim and a Christian Dialogue about Faith, a new collaboration to help address misconceptions and stereotypes.
The video is part of MPAC’s Mustard Seed Project, which brings Muslims and Evangelical Christians in predominantly Red States to the same table, to talk, get to know each other, share a meal, and ask uncomfortable questions. The conversations are intended to disrupt the status quo by challenging the inaccurate tropes that tend to reinforce a monolithic, intolerant, and harmful representation of Muslims and Evangelical Christians.
In Finding Common Ground, two social media influencers, Chelsea Hurst and Tasneem Afridi—who identify as Evangelical Christian and Muslim, respectively—break bread and engage in a conversation about their unique faiths. Through open and honest dialogue, they explore the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, and share their personal experiences of how their faith has shaped their lives. The conversation goes beyond theology and doctrine. The two women, who had never met prior to this video, also discuss navigating relationships, community, and the challenges of living out their faith in a modern world.
“The Mustard Seed brings hope to American communities of diverse faiths. In the spirit of MPAC’s mission, the Mustard Seed aims to bridge differences and to promote harmonious social relationships at the local level. We wish conversations like the one between Chelsea and Tasneem will become the norm and will keep breaking barriers to fulfill the promise of our pluralistic democracy. We hope the message will spread widely and generate the kind of conversations that are needed to strengthen compassion across differences,” said Salam al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
“I really enjoyed meeting Chelsea and talking to her about life, faith, and the journey of being an online content creator,” said Tasneem Afridi, a comedian who combines humor with social justice. “It was a great and unique opportunity to meet someone new and have a deep and meaningful conversation that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. Conversations like that are something you would have after knowing someone for a while so it was a refreshing experience.”
Tasneem immigrated with her family to the United States as a toddler. Her YouTube channel focuses on the challenges of adulthood and balancing growing up in two cultures while being a religious minority. Chelsea Hurst, whose digital content ranges from beauty to parenthood to faith, said the opportunity to speak with Tasneem deepened her knowledge of the Islamic faith and what it means to be a Muslim in the United States.
“The Mustard Seed Project is creating opportunities for people to understand—and, importantly, love their neighbor; that’s what Tasneem and I are encouraging everyone else to do as well,” said Chelsea Hurst.
This video is also part of Define American’s ongoing narrative change efforts to create a culture that rejects xenophobia and the ostracization of immigrants.
“We believe in the power of personal stories to shift the narrative around what it means to be American,” said Define American Founder and President Jose Antonio Vargas. “By bringing together people of different backgrounds and faiths, the Mustard Seed Project is helping to spark the types of humanizing dialogue necessary to building bridges across communities.”
The name of the project derives from the simile of the mustard seed used both in the Bible and the Qur’an to symbolize how even the smallest deed directed towards the greater good can bring about invaluable social change. The project was made possible by a legacy donation by the late Diane Mott whose dream was to build bridges between faith communities.