CRT traces its roots to a trip to Israel during the early days of the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising). Andrea (Andy) Blanch and Howard Nelson were among the travelers. In the midst of hatred and anger, they were surprised to encounter many people of all faiths deeply committed to peace. “We came to the conclusion that we had an obligation to do something to support these peacemakers, and to let people know about what we had seen” Andy said. In 2006, the Center for Religious Tolerance was incorporated with that goal in mind.
CRT’s activities grow from connections and relationships. We come to understand local conditions through traveling, sharing meals with local peacemakers, and seeing how the peacemakers live and work. People we know introduce us to other people, who introduce us to new ideas, new projects, and new communities.
Organizations such as the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) and the United Religions Initiative (URI) also help us identify individuals and groups with a vision for the future and the energy and passion to create sustainable change. Thanks to these partnerships, we now support projects in Kenya and Honduras as well as Israel and Palestine. The assistance we offer might be financial, technical, conceptual, help with grant writing, access to media or policy makers, documentation and evaluation, or networking. But always the goals are set by the change makers themselves.
CRT remains committed to educating the public about grassroots interfaith peace efforts. With a new radio show and a growing database, social media presence and website traffic, CRT now reaches thousands of people with a message of hope. CRT also maintains its commitment to putting resources directly in the hands of individual peacemakers. In addition to helping new efforts get off the ground, we have begun testing new approaches to building peaceful and resilient communities. Promising new directions include empowering women and girls to be the peacemakers of tomorrow and building peaceful communities through the application of “trauma-informed” approaches. Although our activities have expanded to the point of needing a part-time paid administrative assistant, CRT is administered almost completely on a volunteer basis. “Our goal is to support people on the ground who are working for peace and social justice,” Andy said. “They are the ones who are going to change the world.”