Students and faculty shared personal takes on the intersection of faith and politics and examined statistics from the Pew Research Center on religious groups and their political views at a discussion-style event.
The event, hosted by the Center for Service, Spirituality and Social Justice (CS3), was part of their “Faith and…” series, where community members can have conversations about faith and other topics.
“There’s lots of different views that people of faith have,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Sarah Niebler, who led the event. “I want us to be able to talk to each other. I want faith not to be something that divides us but rather become something that makes us able to come together and talk about common values.”
Niebler presented research from the Pew Research Institute polling people of different religions and their views on social issues such as abortion, environmental protections, same-sex marriage and human evolution. Niebler asked questions to generate discussion.
Niebler said she enjoys talking with students who she may not have the opportunity to meet in her classes, and also said “I am a person of faith… the kind of small community Dickinson is lets people know that I’ve got interests outside straight political science.”
Carolina Celedon ’22, a student of Niebler’s American government class, attended the event after a class discussion on the intersection of faith and politics. “I thought it would be cool to learn some deeper insight,” she said. “It’s easy in today’s political climate to talk about white-Evangelical Christians as the primary group that are polarized when it comes to politics, but to learn about the other religious groups was super interesting.”
Dalit Kluger ’21, a political science major, said she loves politics, which sparked her interest in the event. She explained, “I do think it’s important, the intersection of [faith], because people do often vote based on what their faith is.” During a discussion about religious beliefs and immigration, Kluger talked about a church she volunteered at that became a sanctuary for immigrants.
Aidan Birth ’21, a religion major and student worker for the office of religious life within CS3, said the last election cycle largely influenced the discussion. “I think in almost every election year the issue of faith is raised,” he said, “[faith and politics] are two issues that are almost inseparable from many people’s personalities… so people are very passionate about both.”
Birth, who is Catholic, explained how people feel strongly about issues related to their religious backgrounds, and reiterated Niebler’s point that compassion is a common value of many religions. He said he hopes that the message of intersectionality between faith and politics extends beyond the Dickinson community. “We often like to think of religion and politics as a one-sided thing… and I think we often confuse the doctrine with the actual personal beliefs of people,” he said.
Landis House provided the space for the Faith and Politics dinner and conversation on Nov. 29.