Volunteer State Community College hosted its Religion and Christian Privilege panel at the Great Hall in the Ramer Administration Building as a part of Diversity Week. The panel began at 11:30 and ended at close to 1:00 p.m.
Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives at Vol State, moderated the event. He greeted the gathered students and faculty and thanked them for attending. Faculty members Deb Moore, Sherri Person and Peter Pagan made up the panel.
Yarbrough said he hoped the discussion would be beneficial to the thoughts people had toward religion before asking the panel their opinion on how religion had impacted or divided culture.
Pagan answered this by saying “divisions have arisen because of an unwillingness to question our convictions.”
Deb Moore went on to deliver her presentation on religious literacy. “Within our communities we often are raised isolated within a bubble. We have a tendency to believe the entire world sees things the way we see them.”
Moore continued by saying that when people are introduced to a world with others who view things in a very different way, rather than reach out, people tend to isolate themselves further in what they find familiar.
By the time she was twenty, Moore said she knew her religious tradition inside and out.
“If we equate that to language, it is like saying I just know pronouns up and down. But if you just know pronouns and not nouns or conjunctions, you are not a literate person,” Moore said.
After this, Person proceeded with her presentation on interfaith. “A simple definition of interfaith is honoring and respecting the many and diverse religious faiths, beliefs and traditions or lack thereof throughout the world,” said Person.
Person continued by saying interfaith is all about inclusion. “Perhaps if a Christian were to engage in an interfaith discussion, they might think they would have to give up their understanding of Christianity in order to engage their Buddhist brother or sister in their religious walk.
Person said this is was not true. Interfaith means a person can still hold to their faith-based traditions, she said.
After Person, Pagan presented the final talk. Pagan said people tend to downplay the importance of reason in favor of faith. Reason is the capacity rational creatures possess to form concepts and arrive at conclusions.
Pagan said faith is an act that pertains to reason, not exclusively rational. “Some may make reference to saint Paul saying to beware of worldly philosophy. Some may take it to mean that philosophy is the enemy of faith.
“Consider that Paul did argue with thinkers of his time about their views. He engaged in dialogue. You can engage in rational dialogue and argumentation in a positive, respectful fashion,” said Pagan.
After the talks, the floor was open to students who may have questions for the panelists.
The panel was collaborated between the Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee and the Office of Student Life and Diversity.