The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

Social issues mix religious beliefs at OSU’s interfaith panel

Jules Wood
Professor Elizabeth Barstow (she/her) sits in her office in Milam Hall on Friday, Nov 3, 2023. Though Barstow is a professor of Religious Studies at Oregon State University, she herself identifies as an Atheist.

Interfaith Dialogues, an event that seeks to bridge the gap between different religions, continues this week on April 11.

This event is run by Senior Instructor of Religious Studies at Oregon State University Eliza Barstow and there are three more nights of discussion left, one this Thursday and two in May, each panel bringing a new topic to discuss.

The discussions are open to everyone and audience members are encouraged to ask questions toward the end of the session.

“I wish to facilitate group dialogues between people with widely divergent viewpoints; I see this as a useful contribution to social wellbeing and I also see this use of my time as being very much in line with OSU’s commitments as a land grant university,” Barstow said

This panel is funded by a program called Interfaith America which seeks to unite people of all religions in America.

“The grant is intended, to use the words from their website, to help campuses with ‘leveraging interfaith skills to increase civic cooperation,’” Barstow said.

The discussion on April 11 runs from 6-8 p.m. in the Journey Room of the Memorial Union and is going to be focusing on climate change. According to Barstow, the people participating in this particular event are Roger Blaine, Phil Bressler, Teresa Nielson, Mike King and Jill McAllister. 

These panelists are going to be representing Baha’i, Reform Judaism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Unitarian Universalism and nondenominational Christianity.

“I increasingly hear people despair that conversations across ideological divides are either conversations filled with animosity or conversations in which people speak past each other,” Barstow said. “As such, I wanted to create a conversational opportunity that was focused on dialogue rather than debate.”

Barstow also expressed that she understands that religion may shape people’s views on current social issues and she wants to present audience members with the opportunity to learn what some religious leaders think about this issue. 

Past discussion points include birth control and abortion and access to guns. Past events have had religious leaders from Sunni and Shia Islam, diverse forms of Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, one variety of indigenous religion and atheism.

There are two more events that are part of this program taking place in May. On May 2, from 6-8 p.m,  the panelists are discussing LGBTQ+ rights within religion and on May 23, from 4-6 p.m., the panelists are discussing racism. Both of these events take place in the Memorial Union Journey Room. 

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