About 15 students and faculty discussed religion and unity at the Interfaith Student Roundtable for Hope and Peace last week in the Campus Center.
Moderated by University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner and Professor of Religion Richard Rose, the small group represented many religions, including Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
“There is this connection and difference between religions,” Rose said. “We can celebrate it and learn from it.”
The event marked the Eleven Days of Global Unity: A Season of Interfaith Celebration held every September in the Pomona Valley. The students talked about their religious upbringings, the occasional change of faith and their hope for future peace among religious groups.
“In order to have peace in your life, you need to love and accept everyone,” said Jamie Newcomer, a freshman environmental biology major, who is a member of the Church of the Brethren.
“One of the universal things in all religions is peace,” said Sarah Mayo, a freshman criminology major.
Mayo left the Mormon church and now considers herself interfaith. “Loving one another can (help us) achieve peace,” Mayo said.
Sonali Shah, a sophomore movement and sports science major, said she grew up with two religions, Islam and Hinduism in her household, so she could decide which religion to follow when she was older.
She chose Islam because she is engaged to a Muslim man.
Shah said she recently lost three members of her immediate family, and she believes hope and peace saved her.
“God, I hope all of their souls rest in peace,” Shah said.
Tahil Sharma, a sophomore Spanish major, wants to be able to deal with international religion and culture. He said he has faced discrimination because of his religion. Someone once called him an “abomination.”
“We are a giant melting pot,” Sharma said. “That is what the world should be.”
“Acceptance is a difficult thing to overcome,” Mayo added.
“I want this kind of conversation to expand because it will ultimately lead to a world that we would want to live,” Wagoner said.
Anthony Juarez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.