Chapel Newsletter Editorial
C H A P E L N E W S
Religion and Secularity at Carleton
Carleton is a lively religious and spiritual campus. With slight variations each year, about 60% of our student body claims a religious preference, with almost every religion in the world represented here. Most of our student religious groups are sizable and active, and Chapel events representing different faiths are well attended. Today’s religious students tend to be both knowledgeable about their faith and open to learning about other traditions.
Nevertheless, some students are uncomfortable bringing their faith into discussions in the classroom or elsewhere on campus. They feel that they will be judged or disregarded. Yet, like other forms of identity, religious students’ perspectives and experiences are important to bring into the conversation. Secularity, especially in the context of a liberal arts education, allows for the appropriate expression of a full range of understandings, in the pursuit of growth and learning for all. Religious perspectives should not be specially excluded or privileged.
Two guidelines help to make such discussions appropriate:
1) The speaker must not assume that his or her words will be self-evidently true to others and must expect to offer justification.
2) The listener must focus on the particular issue raised by the speaker and put aside the religious stereotypes she or he may hold.
The secular liberal arts expect the speaker and the listener to follow these principles in discussing any idea.
We can each grow from such open conversations and help to change the world through our better understanding of each other. Please join us this fall as we explore the role of religion and spirituality throughout our lives of learning.
In faith and love,
Carolyn Fure-Slocum, Chaplain