Bluefield University students were recently provided an opportunity to explore through the lens of religious liberty and interfaith awareness in the nation’s capital. This opportunity, funded through a grant from Interfaith America, allowed students to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), and Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. Students also met with representatives of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) for a one-on-one dialogue on religious liberties in America.
“Going to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture helped me understand religious and cultural points of view that I haven’t always been exposed to. It helped me become more empathetic and encouraged me to listen to others and learn more about who they are and what their culture and religious perspectives are!” Abby Gasperson said.
Interfaith America is a non-profit organization established in 2002 to promote the idea “that religious difference should serve as a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.” Through this grant funding, it has created opportunities for Bluefield University students and many other university students across the nation to consider interfaith understanding.
“The atmosphere of Washington, D.C. taught me a lot about interfaith understanding because the people who live there come from all faiths, cultures, and walks of life, yet they all still work together to make the city what it is. Without all of these diverse contributions, Washington, D.C. would not be the beautiful and unique city it is today,” Jonathan Collier said.
As a Christ-centered learning community, Bluefield University nurtures biblical values in its students while preparing them for a career working alongside people with other belief systems and teaching them the importance of religious liberty.
“Religious liberty is important because, without the right to religion, groups of people tend to make themselves seem better than others who are not of their respected religion,” Isaiah Rife said. “One of the biggest examples of this we learned from is the Holocaust that was ran by the Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was on a mission to rid the world of the Jewish people due to their religion.”
“God gave us free will. Even the people who don’t follow Him, we have to love them,” Hannah Mac shared.
Other events held on campus during the academic year included film presentations at The Granada Theater in Bluefield, West Virginia, field trips to The Greenbrier County Historical Society and North House Museum, along with panel discussions on interfaith relationships.
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