To the Editor:
Faith literacy is the understanding of faiths, religions and their influence. In diverse communities like Andover, it is important to acquire basic knowledge of key beliefs to build empathy between members of Andover’s community. But the reality is that faith is seldom, if ever, part of conversations around campus; it’s often marginalized because the predominant view is that faith-based talks should not extend outside the circles of faith groups. In addition to faith literacy raising empathy, it also increases knowledge in current politics.
Faith, like race, gender, sexuality, ability and ethnicity, is a facet of identity that should be talked about more on campus. Faith-centered conversations, if done well, can help create a more inclusive community for both members and non-members of faith groups. For example, talks about the intersection between religion and other aspects of identity may be able to spur activism.
Acquiring insight on various faiths allows us to fathom how members of our community orient themselves in this world, and how their opinions, shaped by their beliefs, might vary on a wide spectrum. It is common in Andover’s culture to engage in controversial talks that spur distinct responses including some influenced by faith beliefs. It is important to consider each person’s backgrounds in these conversations. While we do not argue that faith should be used as a rationale in political topics, we assert that students should feel comfortable practicing or not practicing faith. Through faith literacy, our community can become well-informed about global faiths, and stereotypes can be dispelled through conversations.
Faith literacy’s importance adds another perspective to navigate history, literature, politics and everyday life. Why did the Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock? How did some Americans justify slavery? Why do some Americans oppose abortion? Faith literacy gives insight on the motives of people in politics and the news. To become effective members in our community, faith literacy should be seen as a critical skill; we should be aware of the impact that faith, religion and spirituality have on the world.
Marwa AlAlawi ’16
Muslim Student Association
BrianPaul Robert ’16
Catholic Student Fellowship
Duschia Bodet ’16 Andover Christian Fellowship Co-Head
Jules Comte ’16
Arzu Singh ’16 Hindu Student Union Co-Head
Mihika Sridhar ’16 Hindu Student Union Co-Head
David Todd ’16 Andover Atheist Co-President
Leah Adelman ’17 Jewish Student Union President
Nadha Illikal ’17 Muslim Student Association
Herbert Rimerman ’17 Jewish Student Union Director of Programming
Skyler Sallick ’17 KidSpirit Magazine Writer
Valerie Zhang ’17 KidSpirit Magazine Writer
Anna Zimmer ’17 KidSpirit Magazine Writer