By Mark Eyerly

While preparing to lead a conversation on religious and spiritual inclusivity on campus, College Chaplain Rev. Alex Hendrickson asked some student members of Lafayette’s Interfaith Council for advice on topics to explore. Their replies:

  • It’s important for people to understand how much diversity there is within various religious traditions.
  • Political and religious views are too often considered one and the same, but one does not necessarily predict the other.
  • Religious beliefs or spirituality are important parts of their self-identity.
  • Negative experiences related to their beliefs or spirituality most often involve faculty, who seem to consider students of faith as possibly less intelligent than those without religious convictions.

“In my experience, Lafayette is committed to religious diversity, but sometimes we don’t know what that looks like or means for others,” Alex said during the Feb. 24 public meeting of the College’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

Brett Hendrickson, associate professor of religious studies, added that religious affiliation for some is independent of a belief in God. For them, religion is “part of so many things about who you are and how you understand your relationships,” he said. “It’s not a choice someone makes about belief, it’s a more comprehensive part of identity.”

Meeting participants pointed out that people of minority faiths on campus often try to not draw attention to their beliefs and practices, which adds an onerous burden to their faith and identity. Asked one attendee: “Do we need a stop-judging campaign?”

The next open meeting of the DEI Council will discuss the topic “Why Pronouns?” at 1 p.m. on March 10.

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