Archive for Saturday, August 21, 2010

Faith Forum: How should one bring up religion in a college dorm setting?

August 21, 2010


Elizabeth Watkins, missionary with FOCUS, St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road:

Bringing up the topic of faith in a dorm on a college campus can be quite challenging, especially when all you want is to make friends and feel like you belong. In my experience, both as a resident and as a resident’s assistant, the old adage “actions speak louder than words” has proven to be the most effective means of communicating what you believe. The most effective and powerful witness of faith is to see it authentically lived out every day. It’s in the small ways you treat your roommate, neighbors and people visiting from other dorms, with selflessness, hospitality, respect and charity, etc. It’s in the seemingly insignificant moments throughout the day when no one is apparently watching you. This is because these actions and moments are stored away in the memories of those surrounding you, and it’s these memories that come to mind when you do decide to have an intentional faith-based conversation with them.

This brings me to another key factor: intentionality. As I mentioned, discussing faith is not easy; therefore you must be intentional about having the conversations and being bold when doing so. When talking to friends about faith it’s important to use topics relevant to their lives so that they can connect with what you are saying. Using questions as a basis for the discussion is also helpful because it allows them to come to understandings on their own as they try to answer what has been asked. Always remember to speak the truths of faith with love, compassion and a lot of patience. Your daily example, coupled with using a respectful tone and attitude while conversing, will speak volumes on what it actually means to believe what you do.

— Send Elizabeth Watkins e-mail at

The Rev. Marshall Lackrone, pastor, Calvary Temple Assembly of God, 606 W. 29th St. Terrace:

Everyone has heard the old sayings about not talking about religion or politics. Yet in a dorm setting the deepest feelings and beliefs are sure to come up in daily conversations. I don’t think the question of “how” should be our greatest concern. But what is said can have great relevance. An ancient proverb says: “A wise man thinks before he speaks.”

I am going to approach this question from a Christian viewpoint. The Christian is guided by what is contained in the Bible. One verse comes to mind in Romans 1:16 (KJV) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” When the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Rome he believed that standing up for what we believe is paramount to the Christian. Later Paul wrote to a very young ministerial student these words: 2 Timothy 1:8 (NLT), “So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the good news.” Paul seems very consistent about not being ashamed of ourselves, our Christ, or his followers.

I think Paul would expect the question of religion to come up even in a dorm setting. He would also encourage us to speak about something that is this important us. Let us be true to our faith and not ashamed.

— Send e-mail to Marshall Lackrone at


Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 8 months ago

Since it is probably a goal while in college to make some life-long friends and learn some new and hopefully useful skills, any discussions of religion should probably take a back seat. All religion is fantasy, all religions have been created out of the mind and intellect (or lack of it) from the notions and imaganiations of the human mind. While it might be argued that the human mind is the mirror and creation of a higher power (this carries some validity), no human person alive today or in the past can say with certainty that his "religion" is valid, that his "faith" is the "one true way" or any other of the alarming statement that one hears from such committed views of the true nature of the Divine Power of Creation of the Universe. And yet, the topic is the subject of furious debate, vicious accusations and assertions, wherein the advocate of one faith or another will go to most extreme lengths to assert that his religion is "the one way" and that all others are condeming everyone else to hellfire.

Since this is the present state of some human advocates of some sort of doctrinaire religious belief, it would probably be best to avoid much discussion with people you might want to make friends with.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 8 months ago

"the advocate of one faith or another will go to most extreme lengths to assert that his religion is "the one way" and that all others are condeming everyone else to hellfire."

That is certainly not true of all religions. Jews certainly do not believe in "Hell" as described in the New Testament, as it is never mentioned in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) at all. The Hebrew word "Sheol" which does occur in the Tanakh, means merely "the state of the dead", and nothing more. The idea of "Hell" is a New Testament invention.

Of course, once "Hell" was invented, it became necessary to be saved from it. That's a Jewish viewpoint. And, Jews don't have any missionaries, and never make much of an effort to convert anyone.

I can't say much about Buddist beliefs, as I am aware of my total ignorance about them. But I am quite sure that Buddists don't believe in "Hell" either.

I am quite sure that whenever you make a blanket statement about religion or anything else you are going to be incorrect, because there are exceptions to everything.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 8 months ago

"There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same."

That's an ancient Chinese proverb, but it applies very well to both Jewish and Buddist beliefs. Some other religions are very different in that they claim that there is only one path, and it's theirs!

madman 7 years, 8 months ago

I like that proverb. I have never heard it before.

beatrice 7 years, 8 months ago

When you have a goat in the room, but before you sacrifice it, ask your roommate if he or she cares to join you. If they say no, continue on with the ritual. Just try to keep the blood to your side of the room. Allowing the blood to fling all over the room is just bad manners.

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