The Faith of Others: An Interreligious Dialogue On Religion and Sexuality
On Friday, April 14, 2023 in the OASIS Multicultural Center (OASIS House), the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME), in partnership and collaboration with Unitarian Universalist Club, hosted a new series of programs called, “Interreligious Dialogues” to promote religious literacy and offer our campus community better ways of understanding ourselves, ourselves in relation to one another, and ourselves in relation to the world.
Rev. Cheryl Leshay, who recently retired from our University Chaplain Team, served as Campus Chaplain and Religious Advisor for the Universalist Unitarian Club during her tenure at WPI. This partnership has historically promoted programming and support for various representatives of religious traditions at WPI to discuss topics with one another. This dialogue and programming have fostered one way to share spiritual practices and insights. To continue in the spirit of this legacy of dialogue, students gathered to consider the intersection(s) of faith and spirituality as the inaugural theme for this series of Interreligious Dialogues.
As one of the programs that followed WPI’s recent Critical Conversations Forum discussing sexuality, identity, and belonging, students formed a four-person panel to participate in a subsequent discussion on faith and sexuality. After conducting a student poll in preparation for the discussion, panelists responded to questions including:
- Do you believe your faith and queerness are compatible?
- Do you feel like you have "lost" out on any part of your faith because of your queerness?
- How do you find community in your faith, if you do?
These questions are important and were posed by students to their peers. As the first in a series of Interreligious Dialogues, students were invited into a dialogue of life where participants are trying to live in a neighborly spirit, sharing the intersections of various social locations, and their associated problems and preoccupations. Students were also invited into a dialogue of action, in which members of different faiths collaborate to achieve various social goods. (Learn More: Vatican’s 1991 document Dialogue and Proclamation).
“I find the image of a roundtable to invite participants into a community commitment with one another. That commitment starts with the acknowledgement that we bring our full selves to said table. The other critical task is to discover new ways to reach across a wide table ridden with varying differences. My hope for these series of dialogues is that we exercise this muscle for the good of shared community.”
-Kalvin Cummings (He/Him), Assistant Director for Religion and Spiritual Life
The Collegiate Religious Center (CRC) provides a space to WPI students, faculty, staff, and community members for the purpose of religious exploration, devotions, worship, prayer, education, administration, and fellowship. Our team of Campus Chaplains serve as spiritual advisors for students, and can offer support and guidance irrespective of students' primary religious traditions. As spiritual advisors to the WPI community, Campus Chaplains counteract the inequality of varied expression(s) of religion, spirituality, and any form of meaning-making practice and support student meaning-making expression to tend with systems of oppression as well as any other stressors. This center includes several reservable spaces to suit both spiritual and non-spiritual needs, including a Multifaith Meeting Space, Islamic Prayer Room, and Multifaith Worship Space.
The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) promotes and oversees all student facing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) learning experiences, programs, services, trainings, and initiatives for WPI.