April 19, 2024

Interfaith hosted a panel on Nov. 3 for various people with different religious backgrounds and experiences. The panel was held in Bayley auditorium and sponsored by the Interfaith committee, Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Pastor’s Office. Before the panel, there was a lunch with speaker Warren Copeland in Blair 101.
The panel explored how faith and beliefs impact people’s political engagement. The panel consisted of professor Wendy Gradwohl (Business), professor Lori Askeland (English), Mustafaa Islam (An-Nur Islamic Center) and Ed Leventhal (Temple Sholom). The panel was moderated by Heath Queen, ’16. There were community members, faculty, staff and students in attendance.
The event started with the panelists telling stories about their religious backgrounds, and Gradwohl expressed how she came into her religion.
“I didn’t grow up as a religious person, but growing up, I started to read the Bible,” Gradwohl said.
The panelists were asked questions from how the presidential election will impact religion, to what has challenged the panelists in their respective faiths. Islam shared his thoughts about how the president won’t affect his religious belief.
“Whoever becomes the president, we will be Muslim no matter who is elected and we are going to live our life,” Islam said.
He then began to speak about the election being a test for the American people, and that people will agree and disagree on issues, but people have to recognize that people share the same human dignity.
Another question the panelists were asked was what gives them hope, and Askeland said young people give her hope.
“I am surrounded by young people all the time,” she said.
Leventhal also shared what gave him hope.
“This too shall pass,” Levanthal said.
Gradwohl responded that her home isn’t on earth. Instead, it’s in Heaven and her time on earth is limited, so she is doing the best she can.
Askeland shared her appreciation for being on the panel.
“It was a very interesting discussion. I especially appreciated hearing from members of the Jewish and Islamic communities in Springfield about how they are approaching this election,” she said.
Pastor Rachel Tune voiced her opinion of the panel as a member of Interfaith.
“I was impressed with the authentic way people shared how their own faith tradition shared their political activity and views,” Tune said.
Also a member of Interfaith, Zara Tickner, ‘18, shared her experience of the panel.
“Overall, it was a great conversation; all panelists, regardless of political or faith background, wanted to make decisions that were best for the greater good,” Tickner said.

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