A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, he has four honorary degrees. His autobiography is required freshman reading on 11 college campuses. He runs a nonprofit organization — the Interfaith Youth Core — with 31 employees and a budget of $4 million. And he was tapped by the White House as a key architect of an initiative announced in April by President Obama.
Mr. Patel got there by identifying a sticky problem in American civic life and proposing a concrete solution. The problem? Increased religious diversity is causing increasing religious conflict. And too often, religious extremists are driving events.
He figured that if Muslim radicals and extremists of other religions were recruiting young people, then those who believe in religious tolerance should also enlist the youth.