There are many religious organizations on campus. In a place that many people refer to as the Bible Belt, it is sometimes rare to hear the point of view of different religions. However, one WT organization exposes its members to the vast differences, but also similarities that religions across the globe share. The Student Interfaith Dialogue is an organization that values promoting interfaith exploration.
The President of the organization, Ellie Anders, describes what goes on in a typical meeting.
“Monday was our last meeting this semester,” said Anders. “The religion that we decided to delve into is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What we did was we had the Stake speak to our organization at our final meeting. The Stake is the leader of the church and our goal was to understand this religion and to as always go into it with an open mind.”
The organization is dedicated to its members. They try to make everyone feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging.
“One of our goals is that we welcome absolutely everyone,” said Anders. “Whether you believe in God, Gods or no god at all, you are welcome here. If you have an established religion or if you are trying to figure out what your world belief will be, it does not matter. This is a place for everyone.”
The organization has also found its home at a local coffee shop. This is because they wanted a welcoming environment for all.
“We hold our scheduled and regular meetings at Palace Coffee Company,” said Anders. “This is mostly because I wanted an environment that wasn’t like a classroom. I wanted a space that was inviting and welcoming. Ultimately I wanted a place where we could build a community.”
The Student Interfaith Dialogue also goes to different places of worship in order to view the religion and its artifacts from the religion’s perspective.
“We enjoy going to places of worship as we went to a synagogue and got to see the menorah and look at the scrolls,” said Anders. “So we went to the actual setting and put our hands on these artifacts.”
Many students around the WT campus believe that it is important to have organizations like the Student Interfaith Dialogue.
“America is the melting pot so it is important to understand the way people live because we do share spaces, even if we do not with their beliefs,” Michael Nuberger, a WT freshman, said.
Anders also believes that this is a crucial part of their organization.
“There are so many things in this part of the world we don’t get exposed to,” she said. “It is [imperitive] that we expose people to different types of religion because we have a lack of knowledge, which leads to believing common stereotypes.”
Anders also believes it is fundamental that one is ready to listen, voice their own beliefs, and engage.
“When you come into our space, we simply ask you to listen to other people, but also know you have a voice and are incredibly valuable to what we are trying to do here,” she said. “We ask you to speak from a personal perspective such as ‘I believe.’”