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Spiritual life diversifies at MC

September 26, 2014

Religious diversity is an innate part of any country, county, and even campus in today’s globalized world. Even still, religious intolerance exists in a myriad of forms throughout the world, as shown by the recent tragedies caused at the hands of ISIS members in the Middle East. Intolerance of this extremity can be hard to conceive for the typical Monmouth College student that has grown up in the United States with the freedom to choose their religion.

However, religious intolerance is still prevalent on our campus in significant ways, such as students posting on the Monmouth Confesses page to express their desire for the presence more or less Christian students. By reducing religion to the stereotypical characteristics associated with its followers, we allow religious intolerance to become a part of the culture at Monmouth College.

“A lot of times, people have a negative experience with a specific person and then adopt a negative perspective of everyone in that person’s religious tradition,” said Anders Nelson, a Post-Baccalaureate fellow at Monmouth with a focus on the religious studies department. “People become closed-off…but finding a spiritual outlet to discuss your values and beliefs can really help.”

Luckily, because Monmouth College is associated with the Presbyterian faith, spiritual life is highly integrated into campus life and there are numerous ways for one to broaden their religious views.

There are only four clubs that are officially recognized as spiritual organizations: Campus Crusade for Christ, Campus Outreach, Ignite, and Newman Club. However, there are many other organizations available for students to express and form their beliefs, such as the Meditation Group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Colorful Voices of Praise: Gospel Choir.

“If students seek [religious opportunity] out, it’s there,” said Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, Chaplain at Monmouth College. “If students want to get involved, I’m here to help them find something. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, I can help them create it.”

Just last year, Ott supported students in creating a unique club called Better Together: Interfaith Group. The purpose of Interfaith is to allow people of different faith traditions, or no faith traditions at all, to come together for discussion and to work together towards a common service. Interfaith allows a diverse group of believers to celebrate the commonalities of their faith, as serving others is a meaningful part of numerous belief systems. Additionally, the members of Interfaith are encouraged to ask questions about their own beliefs as well as others’.

There is so much opportunity for one to explore and grow their spirituality at Monmouth College. By taking strides to understand and appreciate the denominations that are present on campus, we can eliminate religious intolerance amongst Monmouth students.

Penny Flynn
Contributing Writer

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