Students discuss religious diversity

By Josey Montana McCoy

The fifth and final Diversity Dialogue of the semester focused on religious diversity last night at the Student Center.

The panel dialogue was moderated by mining engineering graduate student Mehmet Saracoglu and included four students representing different religious faiths. Student Diversity Engagement and the Interfaith Dialogue Organization organized the dialogue.

Panelists, who said they are not religious scholars, explained the general concept of their religious beliefs, answered two questions each, and then took questions from the audience.

Social work graduate student Jonathan Goodan represented the Catholic faith and read passages from the Eucharist representing the main beliefs of the Catholic Church.

Biology and Islamic studies senior Yahya Ahmed represented Islam and said he wanted to explain why his religion is important to him and why it is what he believes in.

“It is a religion of action — not just of believing, but doing,” he said.

His uncle defined the necessity of praying five times a day to him at a young age, Ahmed said.

“He said, ‘If you don’t eat three times a day, you’ll get weaker and starve. If you don’t pray five times a day, you’ll get weaker and starve,’” Ahmed said.

Political science and communications junior Drew Trimble represented the Church of Christ faith.

The basis of Christianity is the Bible, Trimble said.

“The Bible is our standard,” he said. “It’s our foundation. We are to live our life, every day, by this book.”

When asked by an audience member about stereotypes of Christians as close-minded and judgmental, Trimble said he disagreed.

“I just don’t think so. I think (Christianity) is very open,” he said, adding that Christians are meant to meet standards that are in the Bible.

“If that’s close-minded, I guess we’re all in trouble,” Trimble said.

Corey Kline represented the Jewish faith, and she said one of the main rules to live by as a Jew is striving to repair the world. Many famous people belong or belonged to the faith, she said, including “Adam Sandler, Jesus and lots of other cool people.”

About 90 people attended last night’s Diversity Dialogue. Not all were affiliated with religious beliefs.

English senior Casey Lyons said she attended the dialogue because she is an atheist who was raised in a devout Southern Baptist family, which gives her a unique perspective.

“I can appreciate both the side of the atheist and the side of the religious person, and I think there’s beauty in both of those things even though I’m an atheist now,” she said.