Diversity and inclusivity are increasingly top of mind for industries and corporations across the globe. Those are good things. American dentistry’s governing body, the American Dental Association (ADA), is no different in that regard. The organization recently made a move to be more inclusive to dental professionals with different religious beliefs and those with no religious affiliation at all.

To advance the Association's diversity and inclusion efforts, the ADA House of Delegates voted at its meeting last September to rescind the policy, titled "The Dentist's Prayer," used by some state and local dental societies during their meetings. The group also amended its policy on recognition of religious diversity.

The ADA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee was charged with considering the role of faith and religion in the Association, as well as The Dentist's Prayer. This followed a House vote in 2018 to look into the matter of the prayer and report on whether or not it allowed for diversity of position with regard to religion.

"The Diversity and Inclusion Committee thought long and hard about Resolutions 74H and 75H," said Dr. Judith Fisch, former District 1 trustee who served as chair of the committee when the resolutions passed. "We discussed the appropriateness and necessity of faith and religion in a health professional organization. The committee considered best practices and agreed that religious diversity must include those with different beliefs as well as those who are not religious."

To support the committee's findings, the board recommended to the House that it pass Resolution 74H-2019, removing the prayer from ADA policy, and Resolution 75H-2019, updating the recognition of religious diversity policy to reflect a neutral policy stance that "positions the ADA to appeal to the broadest range of members and potential members with varying beliefs, mindsets and expectations."

Moving forward, the Association states that meetings may begin with a personal moment of reflection or silent prayer. "Our goal is for the ADA to foster inclusivity and respect each member's personal life choices," Dr. Fisch said. "Therefore, the committee voted in support of both resolutions and agreed that religious diversity must be reflected accurately in ADA policy."

To learn more about the ADA's commitment to diversity and inclusion within the field of dentistry, visit ADA.org/en/about-the-ada/diversity-and-inclusion.