The Institute for Religious Tolerance began as a natural outgrowth of a project initiated by Dr Arik Greenberg, Eric Halsey and Dr James Findlay, a podcast about religion and spirituality in our world, which had initial support from Loyola Marymount University.
Greenberg soon realized, however, that he would have more creative control over the content of the podcast without the requirement of various administrative offices to vet content in order to protect university image; he was more interested in helping to save lives by building bridges between people of different faiths, so he continued the podcast as an independent project, which evolved into theReligionMatters Show, with the support of several members of the Theological Studies faculty at LMU.
Founding of the Institute
With the project on its own, there was a need to obtain funding and to create an infrastructure to support it. Promoting religious tolerance was Greenberg’s lifelong mission, but it was only now that an epiphany came to him, indicating that this was indeed the right time to step out from behind the curtains and take center stage in this endeavor. Having worked in the non-profit field for the better part of two decades, acting as consultant, principal officer, board member, and incorporator to numerous non-profits, Greenberg knew that he was uniquely suited to the task of founding this new organization, his life’s work. Having done this many times before for other people’s foundations, it would now be a labor of love, but one in which he was well trained. Gathering together the support from colleagues and friends, he began the paperwork, and initiated the process of forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The initial board of directors was comprised of Dr Arinder Chadha (medical doctor by profession and a noted activist in interfaith dialogue and Sikh cultural issues), Dr James A Sanders (PhD, internationally known scholar of Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls), Dr Daniel Smith Christopher (PhD, scholar of Hebrew Bible and a leader in the field of Peace Studies), as well as Greenberg himself.
Greenberg, as the motivating force behind this project, took the helm as its Director, and asked the board to appoint Dolly Bush as its first Secretary and Treasurer. Dolly, also an academic in the field of Religion, had worked with Sanders and Greenberg at the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center several years earlier and showed tremendous abilities in organization and administration. Her addition to the staff was what was needed to move this organization forward efficiently.