CLU is known for its diversity and culture, and as of recently, its interfaith efforts as well.
The interfaith movement is growing on campus and has become a topic of discussion.
Interfaith dialogue means people of different faiths come together to discuss religious opinions and similar practices in order to find a common ground.
Many students at California Lutheran University have been gradually placing interfaith dialogue into our community.
Former ASCLU-G President Evan Clark and current ASCLU-G President Rebecca Cardone have led the way for interfaith dialogue at CLU.
Clark was the founder of the Secular Student Alliance club, the first SSA affiliate officially recognized by a religious university in the country. The SSA was formed in 2009 and moved CLU a step closer to a more interfaith-friendly campus.
“The Secular Student Alliance is an on-campus community group for non-religious students. We created a safe space to help remove the stigma of atheism and non-belief, and to create support in the community to actively pursue conversations of faith and atheism,” said Clark.
Clark believes that the acceptance of the SSA on campus is a wonderful example of CLU’s inclusiveness.
“CLU is a phenomenal community for religious and non-religious beliefs and, more importantly, is best for the dialogue. Our mission statement involves the connection and the conversation between faith and reason and is part of the 500-year Lutheran tradition of higher education. I think we are succeeding by staying diverse and continuing interfaith conversation,” said Clark.
Cardone became friends with Clark when she joined the SSA. Clark introduced her to interfaith work and she has been advocating it ever since. While Cardone was first becoming involved in SSA, an interfaith controversy arose.
“My sophomore year, Evan Clark and Evan Sandlin brought forth an amendment to change ‘to further Christian growth’ in the student constitution to ‘to further faith and reason.’ It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, rightfully so,” said Cardone. “It wasn’t intended to remove our Lutheran identity. It was more intended to make it along the lines of the CLU mission statement and to reflect what we already do.”
The student government tried to alter the amendment that year and allow a vote. It left the student body divided.
One side of the student body wanted to keep it strictly a Lutheran campus pursuing Christian values. The other side wanted to better include other faiths and beliefs so that all students felt welcome.
“I took that very personally. I said, ‘wait a second, this is why interfaith matters, to bring these two camps together,’” said Cardone.
Since becoming student body president, Cardone has been working to continue the interfaith dialogue on campus.
“Now that some of the tension has settled from 2010, I would like to bring back the student constitutional amendment to the preamble. The wording that most rings true to me is, instead of ‘further Christian growth,’ it would be to ‘further the maturity of faith and reason in an environment of Lutheran tradition,’’’ said Cardone. “So you incorporate the faith and reason, you incorporate the growth through maturity and you keep the Lutheran aspect.”
I believe Cardone has carefully worded the potential amendment to positively reflect the student body.
The openness that our school has to all religions and cultures has made it a unique institution.
By modifying the amendment, our school will only be seen as more appealing, accepting and diverse.
Freshman Senator Caleb Arndt also encourages students to explore interfaith.
“I think the word faith scares people because I think a lot of people think of faith as religion. But faith could mean anything: It could be faith in yourself, faith in people, faith in one god, faith in many gods, etc.,” said Arndt. “I encourage students to come to the interfaith events on campus. I think that people should definitely give it a chance and see what their faith means to them.”
I also encourage students to discover interfaith within the campus. I have recently joined SSA upon hearing of it and look forward to its insightful and objective discussions on religion.
CLU may be a diverse campus, but when it is put into words for all to see, will be when all will truly feel welcome here.
I believe making CLU more
interfaith-friendly would be an excellent development within our community.
Published Feb. 6, 2013