Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Beyond the horse and buggy: Lock and Chain panel highlights need for inter-faith conversation

The sophomore honorary Lock and Chain kicked off George Washington Week with a panel on diversity of divinity.

As is the tradition of George Washington Week, the honorary is hosting a weeklong series of events intended to bring together the Washington University community. The theme of this year’s events is diversity, which was spotlighted through Monday night’s discussion on religion.

During the discussion, clergy and laypeople of five major religions—Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Evangelical Christianity—talked about their religious philosophies and the problems that currently beguile their faiths.

The panelists included Father Gary Braun of the Catholic Student Center; Maysa Albarcha, director and speaker for the Islamic Speakers Bureau of St. Louis; Jacqueline Levey, president and CEO of St. Louis Hillel; and others.

Audience members found the event insightful into how much common philosophy these different faiths actually share.

“I think that a common misconception about diversity in belief is that people focus too much on the dissimilarities between religions when really there’s a lot of common ground,” freshman Olivia Williams said.

Albarcha noted that morality is generally the same across religions.

“No one in their religion would say that you should lie, cheat, gossip, steal…” Albarcha said. “Everyone knows what sin is.”

While audience and panel members expressed satisfaction with this conversation, they also expressed regret that conversations like it aren’t as common as they could be.

“At Wash. U., I haven’t had too many discussions about religious beliefs,” freshman Nicholas Machak said. “It’s more like, ‘keep to yourself.’”

Lerone Martin, moderator for the discussion and a postdoctoral research associate, agreed.

“I think that types of events like this are steps in the right [direction] to help increase understanding of various faith communities and step in the right way in terms of religious literacy,” he said.

In addition to the discussion, George Washington Week featured a creative works exhibit and film screening. A benefit night will take place on Thursday night at Noodles & Company, and the annual WUnity Ball will take place on Friday. The week will conclude with a service trip to the St. Louis Transitional Hope House, hosted by both Lock and Chain and Engage360, which provides job and life skills to city residents.

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878