As part of the nationally established Interfaith Week, last Wednesday students gathered to take part in a discussion comparing their experiences with faith and their opinions on various topics. The open discussion featured a panel of representatives from participating faith societies on campus, who answered questions fielded to them by attendees. The audience were mixed up on their tables to ensure a mix of faith perspectives could be discussed in each sub-group with regards to the current topic of focus. Representatives were present from the Jewish, Atheist,
Catholic and Islamic societies as well as the Christian Union.
Questions asked to the panel included broader queries such as ‘How did you come to your belief system?’, as well as more pressing political issues – ‘Has your faith impacted your opinions of Brexit and the US election?’. Following answers from the panel to each question, the audience were encouraged to share their own thoughts with each other to ensure an open dialogue.
Important points emphasised by the panel included the inclusivity and sense of ‘family’ that comes from being part of a faith-based group, as well as the more unfortunate labels that might be placed on religious individuals by the public.
Dom Barstow, President of the Atheists’ and Secular Humanists’ Society said ‘This event gave us a fantastic opportunity to engage with the faith societies and their members, we believe only by debating and discussing our differences will we come to the truth. We greatly look forward to the next event in summer’.
This year Interfaith Week ran for eight days instead of the usual seven to include Remembrance Sunday, to recognise that many people of varying backgrounds and beliefs will all be celebrating that in some way. The purpose of the week itself, according to the event website is ‘Having a special week provides a focal point, helping to open inter faith activity up to a wider audience so that more and more people are made aware of the importance of this vital work and are able to participate in it’. It is just one of a large network of groups seeking to promote harmony and open discussion between various faith groups, which will prove ever more vital as political spheres become increasingly charged.
The discussion was recorded by The Courier Television and is available to watch in its entirety on YouTube.