Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interfaith Cooperation is a Must at Ohio University

Letter to The Post and The Athens News

The White House launched an Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge on March 17. President Obama’s address challenged college students and administrators to promote religious pluralism through interfaith service projects on their campuses.

The president cited Ohio University’s interfaith campaign to combat water pollution as an example of work already happening at universities that he hopes to replicate next year at other universities across the country.

OU’s Interfaith Steering Committee, in partnership with the local nonprofit United Campus Ministry, chose to combat the issue of water pollution at the beginning of this year because we believe that access to clean water is a fundamental human right.

In March, we raised a total of $250 for LifeStraws personal water filters to be sent to Haiti, providing about 50 Haitians with clean water for one year.
As part of my yearlong fellowship with the Interfaith Youth Core, I have worked with students who identify with Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Unitarian Universalism.

I have been inspired and deeply moved by their determination to help those impacted by the earthquake in Haiti and to clean up our local streams. Through conversations with each of these students, I have seen that they, like me, draw their inspiration to serve others from their various faith traditions.
It is more important than ever for students to demand religious pluralism and participate in interfaith service projects at OU and at other campuses throughout the nation.

We have heard the voices of intolerance rise in recent months in cases such as the Ground Zero mosque controversy and the shooting of two elderly Sikh men in California in early March.

It is time for us to raise our voices and show the world that those from diverse faith backgrounds can and must work together to promote the common good.
I, along with the rest of the Interfaith Steering Committee, would like to invite you to join us in this effort.

On April 16, we will be completing a stream cleanup with the local nonprofit Rural Action to remediate acid mine drainage practices that have damaged Monday Creek, located in the northwestern part of Athens County.

On April 27, we will be hosting a Better Together Reception to celebrate our work and present opportunities to get involved in the campaign next year. These events are free and open to students of all or no faith traditions. Contact for more information.

This can be our moment. Our work has inspired the president of the United States to show his support for interfaith action. Help us prove we’re better together.

Guru Amrit Khalsa is a senior at Ohio University majoring in journalism. She is completing an intensive yearlong fellowship with the Interfaith Youth Core, an international nonprofit organization that builds mutual respect and pluralism among young people from different religious traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others.

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