Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, spoke in the Clarke Building to students about religious diversity and American civic culture on Feb. 4.
Patel has worked for over 15 years to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author of multiple books, including his most recent “Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity in the American Promise”. He served on former President Barack Obama’s inaugural faith council. In 2009 he was named by a US News and World Report “one of America’s best leaders.”
Patel discussed how in a democracy such as America, people of various faiths and backgrounds are able to thrive.
“Democracy is a place where you can make personal convictions public, where identities are not just for the home but also for the public square,” said Patel.
He explained how and what interfaith looks like today in America. He also shared challenges he faced when coming here because of his Muslim culture.
Patel went on to explain a story describing an experience with his children in their neighborhood, being able to share his culture and religion with neighbors, gaining and keeping trust.
He then explained “modernity theory”, which is the idea of bringing different people with different identities together.
Patel presented a scenario where the audience is the president of the Jesuit Boston college and a Jewish professor is offended by a cross posted in each classroom. He asked whether the cross should be taken down.
The question spurred members in the audience to answer with facts and personal experiences.
“There’s got to be a place where people can agree to disagree and still respect what each other has but not lose their total identity,” said Robin Walter, who was attending the talk with her daughter.
Patel continued to give several situations in which he allowed the audience to take control of the conversation.
He ended by stating that although religious tensions are present everyday, there are always solutions available to resolve issues, especially here at UVU. This is due to the highly skilled staff and the various intercultural spaces that aim to help people everyday.
This article was corrected Feb. 11, 2019. His theory was misstated as Maternity theory. This was incorrect and changed to Modernity theory.