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- Written by Fatih
- Category: Culture
“The world needs this kind of model,” Claremont Lincoln University President Dr. Jerry Campbell told Aslan Media. “We need better ways of educating our religious leaders. The fact the school began the University on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks underscored that point,” he added.
“The majority of our nation’s colleges and universities are secular, and the rest are mono-religious—usually Christian, Jewish, or Mormon,” said Campbell. Campbell added many of the institutions the school approached initially, while enthusiastic about the concept, were leery of going against the status quo.
“It’s not surprising that all the institutions that have joined us so far are ecumenical and trans-denominational.” By allowing such a broad spectrum of scholarship, the school has been able to attract a diverse, highly engaged and driven student body.
According to Tamar Frankiel, Dean of the Academy for Jewish Religion-California—the University’s Jewish affiliate—standard theology-based curricula limits interaction between students of different faiths, cultivating self-assured “tribal mentalities” which hinder learning.
“We need to desegregate religious education,” she said. The school offers programs that prepare students for specific majors, such as chaplaincy or a career in academia, as well as various learning centers where students from different religious traditions can work together on specific problems, including conflict resolution and environmental issues.
This commitment to inter-disciplinary work has yielded mainstream media exposure in such places as the Washington Post, USA Today and Los Angeles Times, and awarded recognition to members of the school’s faculty and graduates, many of whom were featured in publications of a different religious tradition than their own. Additionally, the school recently finalized an agreement with the U.S. branch of the International School for Jain Studies.
Such a noble mission, however, has not progressed without encountering its share of resistance. The School of Theology received backlash from some of its “more conservative Christian friends,” Campbell said, who were concerned that it was diluting its beliefs.
“Much of the world is a multi-cultural and multi-religious mix,” he said. “Christian minister candidates will be better prepared to work in the real world—that’s the message we’ve tried to get across.”
As tensions increase in the public discourses of the United States, Canada, and Europe, with religious extremism flaring up on all sides, this new educational endeavor offers hope and a conversely positive approach to building a global community of faith and understanding.
By Adam Elrashidi, Aslan Media Contributor
*Photo Credit: Bobak
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