Religion Cannot be Ignored

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by Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

This is my 9th university campus community in which I have lived or worked, and it is the most visibly diverse community I have ever seen.

Many people assume that, in the midst of such diversity, religion is simply too volatile of an issue to be brought to the forefront; however, I believe that is a mistake.  The simple fact is that religion and religious views and leaders are changing the world we live in, and it seems to me that there needs to be an environment where people can speak about their beliefs, fears and frustrations through a safe means, lest we end up in a world in which none of us want to live.

The reality is that colleges and universities are the perfect setting for such a discussion to take place.  A recent article I read put it this way:

Campuses are a unique place where people from different racial backgrounds can come together, commit themselves to an anti-racist agenda, develop an appreciation for cultural narratives that are poorly represented in high school textbooks and in the media, nurture relationships between people from different backgrounds, and perhaps even change attitudes.[1]

It is for this very reason, that campuses have transformed themselves at every level to take equality issues very seriously.  Affirmative action policies have been implemented in student admissions and faculty/staff hiring; and student services have been encouraged to form student groups for these different populations.  Likewise are encouraged to discuss multi-culturalism and respect people of different origins and orientations.

However, religious groups, while allowed to be present, are often asked to be silent.

To the contrary, I am thankful that the administration of the University of Windsor has been very open and supportive of the religious initiatives on campus.  In fact, they have encouraged such discussions on levels I would not have imagined before arriving.

The reason for this is the very point of this entry – to ignore religion is to ignore the very fabric of our society; and for many of us, our lives.  Furthermore, the very purpose of education is to give students the tools to critically analyze and participate in the world in which we live; and we must learn to do so with gentleness and reverence.

As I close, I should add that this is a student forum, and it is only at their request that I have composed this entry.   From time to time, I will add a few thoughts; but for the most part, I will be like all of you – a devoted reader, eager to learn from them.


[1] Patel, Eboo.  “Religious Diversity and Cooperation on Campus.”  Journal of College & Character.  Vol. IX.  No. 2; November 2007:  8 Pages, Print.

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