Religious faith off found principle parallels
By Ian Ross
Finding common ground was the focus for members of Western's Jewish Students' Union and the Intercollegiate Varsity Christian Federation as they gathered last night for an open panel discussion in the Social Science Centre.
Before a crowd of 50-60 students, both sides of the panel civilly discussed a number of issues rather than harshly debate set-in-stone religious principles as the name of the meeting, "Faith Off," suggested. "We are not here to scrap about ideals but rather trade experiences," Ben Williams of the IVCF explained.
Questions about inter-faith marriages, stereotypes and anti-semitism were put forward randomly for discussion by Ryan Parks, the panel mediator and University Students' Council president-elect. "These groups have a lot in common, so it makes for interesting discussion when there is a base to build from," Parks said.
He added the discussion was also about the dominant Canadian secular community and the strong religious society that includes both faiths. The groups are forced to deal with these common themes on a day-to-day basis.
"I feel that many secular people are ignorant to religion and didn't have the opportunity of finding out what I have learned [through religion] because of that," said Mark Zelunka, a second-year economics student and panel member.
Faithful members of the Orthodox Christian community feel they are mistreated and separated by the secular general public as well, said Joel Guthrie, a fourth-year psychology student.
Guthrie said the Christian faith cannot support the issue of inter-faith marriage on the basis the direction of their children would be misguided and fail towards true understanding of their faith.
Jeff Clayman, panelist for the JSU, said the Jewish faith also disagrees with inter-faith marriage for the same reasons.
All four Jewish panelists said they felt living in the Christian dominated society of Canada has still left them open to ignorance and anti-semitism.
Through the discussion, both parties came to a consensus on how their religious principles paralleled each other.
Guthrie cited the later days of Christ as when the branching of the two religions occurred, showing the different directions that each religion has taken.
"We may not agree on all things, but most of us can understand through rationalization and find many areas in common," said Michael Bloom, a JSU panel member.