Various religious organizations on campus joined together to sponsor the event Toxic Faith, an open discussion within the faith community about the role religion plays in people’s lives. Students from all across the religious spectrum were invited to join the conversation on battling what it means to have “toxic” faith.
“I’m really interested in what brings people to religion and what makes people fall away from it,” said freshman Bailey Numbers, a member of the Christian ministry InterVarsity.
Toxic Faith will be held for the next three weeks. The second week of the discussion, the forum, only invites students to join. But the third week opens up its discussion again to staff and students.
The event on Jan. 4 was specifically focused on Christianity. In the coming weeks, sponsors of the event are expecting to see a discussion on a more diverse group of religions.
Freshman Sarah Jane McDonald led the event by saying, “Religion is systematically problematic.” From there, she addressed problems in the faith community such as racism, sexism, queer-phobia and judgement.
“I know there are lot of people that have really been hurt by religion,” McDonald said. “Different religions — especially Christianity has been the perpetrator recently — they will tell people they are wrong for being who they are.”
Julie Tonnesen, Lutheran, Episcopalian and Friends (LEAF) campus minister; Samantha Murray, coordinator for student concerns outreach and Tyler Lee, campus outreach men's coordinator, all shared their personal experiences about how they had been hurt by religion.
Tonnesen spoke on sexism in the church and how that has affected her career as a minister. Murray ‘15 constantly with students battling mental illnesses and addressed the stigma she sees religion often has of mental illness. Lee spoke about how churches today need to be more “welcoming.”
Students from Progressives United in God, Campus Outreach, Lutheran Episcopalians and Friends, Students for Peace, Social Justice and more were all present to support this event. Toxic Faith will continue its conversation on Jan. 11 and Jan 18. at 7 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space in Numen Lumen.