Written by: Elan Waite
The saying goes “You don’t talk religion or politics.” That is how it is still seen for many people who know that both topics can lead to an often unwarranted and heated debate.
The different views on both vary and are often unclear until a conversation is started. It’s very tricky, especially with religion. Those who talk politics are viewed as educated and enlightened, but too often those who even dare to speak on religion are labeled zealots or extremists.
It begs the question, where can religion be discussed openly and freely? A college campus, a place of higher learning, should always serve as a forum for educated discussion and debate.
Religion on college campuses is growing. More campuses are starting religious-based organizations. VSU even has a few such as Hillel, a Jewish organization; MSA, the Muslim Students Association; and a few Christian programs such as Campus Outreach. Many of the organizations open their doors to anyone who would like to come in regardless of their reli gious affiliation.
There is also the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies which offers classes to educate students on religions from all over the world.
With all these opportunities for religious education on campus, both extracurricular and academic, there is no doubt that we would be creating a more understanding and tolerant group of students. Religion on campus is needed for this exact reason. The stereotypes surrounding each religion can only be combated with knowledge. We have an opportunity that students were not as lucky to have 50 years ago. We have diversity. Even on this campus there are people all around who are different in one way or another.
“Share accurate information about what we believe,” Abdul Salah, senior interdisciplinary studies major, said when asked what he wanted the Muslim Students Association to do. He talked about hopefully having an interfaith panel where established members of various religions could talk about their faith and possibly answer questions. This would allow conversation to start and educate students on other religions. The only problem is getting students to come out.
Many students find it valuable to have the organizations on campus for other students’ personal gain. “For some students it’s very important that you have some type of religious organization going on,” Myinda Scarbrough, junior psychology major, said. “I wouldn’t want to be part of a campus that doesn’t have any.”
Getting younger people involved in religious organizations is crucial to their growth. It is important that they continue to get people interested in the groups so they can continue.
Religious organizations on campus coexist, function and flourish, and this is needed especially today. The student body should see this, and even if they don’t join or go to any meetings they should know that the organizations are here and open.