Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Tonight, the 25th day of Kislev in the lunar calendar marks the first night of Chanuka which commemorates the Jews first fight for religious freedom in 165 B.C.E.  

Last week on Viterbo University's campus, the Identities Project sponsored a community forum to speak about Islamophobia as Muslims today are the victims of hatred just because of their religious affiliation.

Why is religious hatred still plaguing us in 2017 so many centuries later  and what do we do about it? 

The dialogue has begun and must continue in all our communities. 

L to R Sister Laura, Wale, Steve, Vince and Trevor

This particular forum consisted of 2 Viterbo professors in the Department of Religion;  Sister Laura and Steve, 

 Wale, a local Muslim resident, 

Vince, past Director of the Franciscan Spirituality Center

and  Trevor, vet of the war in Afghanistan, now a nursing student.
Wale started the forum answering the first question : What is Islam?  

With a short summary he explained Islam as a monotheistic (Allah) Abrahamic religion with Mohammed as its last prophet, prayers 5x/day and pilgrimages.

Doesn't sound like something we should fear, right?

The evening's questions also included:

Can Christianity and Islam coexist?

*General consensus :yes

What are the problems now? 

* Rise of fear
* Elimination of the problem

How was it as an American soldier being in a Muslim country? 

*Difficult experiencing hatred of U.S. soldiers towards Muslims *Extremist groups don't represent the majority nor the religion
* ISIS does more injury to itself

What are some solutions?

* Universities attracting Muslim students to have a presence 
* Learn about differences between religions and cultures
* Educate oneself
* Communicate more
* Cultivate a loving heart
* Use one's voice in the face of discrimination
* Education has to be worldwide recognizing beliefs and ethics 

How would you have answered these questions?

 'Tis the season to be jolly?  Time to work harder to make sure all our neighbors can be. Time to work on eliminating discrimination.

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