By Claire Moll
Claire is a Sophomore at Saint Louis University.
We now live in a world where we cannot avoid meeting people from different belief systems. At one level, our knowledge about other’s belief through our human interactions can bring us together. Through this interaction and exploration, we find that although there are differences of belief, there are more similarities in the essential aspects of our faith, namely the moral dimensions of religion. Furthermore, our interfaith collaboration can bring us to a more harmonious understanding by building friendships that can last a lifetime. Here are the stories of two leaders from Interfaith Alliance and how they came to the realization of the importance of interfaith work:
My name is Claire Moll. As a sophomore at SLU, I have served as the Service Chair and Social Justice Chair of the InterFaith Alliance. Growing up in a small town in the middle of a cornfield, I was never allowed to talk about religion in school. Sure, at home we could talk about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but never was there any questioning of Christianity. The biggest division between all of us living there was whether you were Nazarene, Methodist, or Pentecostal (of which I fit into none). I went to the “Big Brick Church on Broadway” as I would tell my friends. This was an ultra-conservative non-denominational church where I learned that the Jews were the ones who killed Jesus and Muslims were full of hatred of all Americans. In school, when it came to the mythology unit in my Senior Advanced English class, we learned then about Hinduism. We learned how Hinduism was a polytheistic, mythological religion just like that of the historic Greeks and Romans. It was not until I read Eboo Patel’s book Acts of Faith, my freshman summer reading for SLU, that I started to realize the value of other religions.
For the first time, I began to see that although religion is a very important part to a person’s identity, at the base of it all we are all humans. That Muslim or Jew or Hindu (which after meeting the InterFaith Alliance executive board, I realized was not a mythological religion of the past, but a very living and contemporary one) is not so different than I am. Yes, they may have a different view on the afterlife or how to achieve this afterlife, but they are living to make the world a better place just as I am. Since then, I have had the best experiences of my life working with the InterFaith Alliance and have become best friends with people who are of different faiths. I do interfaith work because I see no way to end the ignorance and fear that I experienced as a kid and that can be found worldwide other than to coalesce as one. We can achieve things separately as Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus; however, the collaboration of all religions would result in having a greater, positive effect on society. It is important to not repress our differences but to highlight and appreciate them. I have learned in these past two years that the best way for me to make an impactful difference is by teaming up with my fellow human beings who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i, Atheist, Sikh, and so on. I do interfaith work because we are better together.