A discussion of religious diversity

Keynote Speaker Rev. DeForest B. Saories Jr.

Weber State University’s 24th annual Diversity Conference was held on Oct. 6 and 7. The theme was religious diversity. WSU wanted to encourage people to be open and accepting of others’ religions and beliefs.

The conference included a student panel from multiple belief systems. Students spoke about different issues, including how to engage in respectful discussions on the topic of religious beliefs, the importance of having a belief system and how we can assist those in our community that do not have the same beliefs as us.

Khadija Abdninasir, a panel member, brought up that Muslim students like herself have no prayer room just for them. There is the international prayer room, but it’s shared by multiple religions, which makes it hard to focus on praying.

Fellow panel members and audience members found ways to try to help fix this problem.

“Everyone believes in something, that’s beautiful,” Colin Espindola, panel member, said.

During the “Understanding Internal Religious Diversity” segment, speaker Garin Savage, spoke on the diversity inside of a single denomination of a religion and how the heretics, or those with minority beliefs, can be important.

“Instead of focusing in on those differences, keep in mind all of the similarities, all the points of commonality,” Savage said.

Ian Harvey, an author on theological books, spoke on the doctrine found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during his lecture, “Was God Just Kidding?” His focus was on how a religion with the idea of agency being so important is a religion that could not be pro-choice. Harvey also spoke about his challenges with living in the church, having a gay son and being judged for accepting his son.

Kathleen Paco Cadman, speaker at the conference, spoke on the impact of religion and belief on those who are affected by death. Cadman covered the practices surrounding death in multiple religions and how clergy in hospitals can be both beneficial and detrimental to the mental and physical health of patients.

Rev. Deforest B. Saories Jr, a retired senior pastor, was the keynote speaker. He told a story about how one of the members of his congregation was from Ghana and became a king. Years after this member left, Saories got a letter from this member asking him to help improve his community. After some deliberation, Saories agreed and was able to assist in building libraries, health clinics and cafeterias.

“My relationship with the country of Ghana is really the result of immersion at all having diversity in my community.” Saories said.