Chicagoan Wins Top National Prize in Religion

Eboo Patel wins Grawemeyer Award in religion

By BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, Dec 3, 2009  |  Updated 11:45 PM CDT
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Chicagoan Wins Top National Prize in Religion

Eboo Patel

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A member of President Obama's Faith Advisory Council has been awarded a Grawemeyer Award, one of five given for superior contributions to music, political science, psychology, education and religion.

Eboo Patel is the founder and executive director of Chicago's Interfaith Youth Core and was awarded one of the $200,000 prizes for his 2007 autobiography, "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation."

He was selected from among 67 nominations worldwide.

The Interfaith Youth Core, created 11 years ago, unites young people of different religions to perform community service and explore their common values and is now active on more than 50 U.S. college campuses.

"There is a lot of people who think religion poisons everything, (and other people who think) that Islam and Christianity are in an inherent clash of civilizations, said Patel in a telephone interview, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.  "We want to give the lie to both of those dangerous solutions."

Patel is a former Rhodes Scholar, and in October was named one of America’s Best Leaders in 2009 by U.S. News & World Report.  He maintains a column at The Washington Post called "The Faith Divide."

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