Source: Democrat & Chronicle
(December 19, 2006) - In this age of great controversy over religious issues during the holidays, I would like to make a passionate plea to the community to be thoughtful, patient and respectful of the variety of religions and philosophies represented in our city.
As our country and, in turn, our city become increasingly - and wonderfully - diverse, we are faced with unprecedented complexities regarding religious greetings and displays. From the airport in Seattle to the doors of Wal-Marts all over the country, this year has been laden with a heightened sense of frustration and angst from people all across the spectrum of beliefs.
Even with the best of intentions, we may accidentally offend; we are all bound to make mistakes. In the spirit of respect and cooperation that resides at the heart of our community, I encourage each of us to approach these topics with a sense of curious exploration and unwavering compassion. Let us ask questions rather than make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Let us pursue dialogue instead of distance. If we are open to new experiences and new information, our community can be enhanced because of - not in spite of - our diversity.
As institutions across the country grapple with the issue of how to celebrate various holidays in a respectful and inclusive way, I humbly offer the approach that we have taken at Nazareth College. With a strong commitment to affirming religious diversity on campus, we encourage celebration of the many religious "holidays of light": Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice and Kwanzaa. At the same time, we urge respect for those who do not celebrate any religious or cultural holidays during this season.
During the holiday season, we have various decorative and educational displays from various traditions throughout the campus. We encourage students, faculty and staff to explore the traditions and rituals of the holidays celebrated by all members of our community. We have had many misunderstandings and points of tension, but together we strive to be respectful of all.