Religion Center Gets Grant
Mid-Missouri is home to a variety of religions. The Center for Religion, the Professions and the Public received a $1.5 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trust. The center hopes to teach Missourians about religions they may not usually be exposed to, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or Islam.
"We're interested in increasing knowledge about religious diversity and beliefs and practices in the hope that, with that knowledge, we can become a stronger country," explained center director Ed Lambeth.
As she prepares to celebrate Hanukkah, Kerry Hollander of the Hillel Foundation admits the holiday season reminds her of the differences among people.
"I feel more comfortable when someone says to me 'Happy holidays,'" she said. "But, I do think if that person doesn't hear 'Merry Christmas,' then there's a loss for them, too."
The center will teach religious diversity through campus and community seminars. MU faculty and fellows will travel to 10 cities to discuss media coverage of religion.
"This brings together all of those things in a way that helps educate young people, adults, non-students in the community, and anyone who takes advantage of them," said Hollander. "And it does provide diversity by opening our eyes and our ears and our hearts to the differences among us."
The center also has created two courses on religious diversity, and it hopes to continue to develop outlets for students to learn.
"I think every opportunity we have to remind students that there's a world of differences out there is an opportunity to help them grow," Hollander said.
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