Baha'i News -- Religion, breaking barriers focus of forum

Religion, breaking barriers focus of forum

Talking to your neighbors is the first step to breaking barriers and building communities, said state Human Affairs Commissioner Jesse Washington.

To increase understanding of different religions, Washington will moderate four forums throughout the state, the first to be held in Rock Hill on Monday. The forum, "Neighbors and Strangers: What Does Our Faith Require of Us?," will be combined into one program and aired on ETV statewide Sept. 11.

"The aim is to begin interfaith dialogue," Washington said. "We're trying to have dialogue to determine how we can respect different religions. A way to do this is to talk about it in different forums."

The forums are in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, which led to unease with different religions, especially Islam. President Bush urged governors to begin talks with religious leaders, and S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges asked the Human Affairs Commission to sponsor interfaith forums.

"We're all in America, and we need to figure out how to live with one another. One way to do that is to get to know each other and you do that by having dialogue," Washington said.

In Rock Hill, the No Room For Racism committee was asked to help organize a forum. Monday's forum, set for 7 p.m. at the Baxter Hood Center, will include a panel of leaders from the Islam, Catholic, Jewish, Baha'i and Protestant faiths.

"I think it's an effort to make people understand that we have a lot more in common than we don't have in common," said John Gettys Jr., one of the founders of No Room for Racism and a member of the Human Affairs Commission. "There is more that unites us than divides us."

Gettys described the forum as part of the healing process following Sept. 11. Even before the forum begins, audience members will be able to see how one person is responding to the terrorist attacks. Lee Malerich, a fiber artist for more than 25 years, will have on display one of her pieces "Without my Wounds, 2001" at the Baxter Hood Center.

Contact Jennifer Stanley at 329-4070 or

"Neighbors and Strangers: What does our faith require of us?" will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College.

The forum, sponsored by No Room For Racism, ETV, the Governor's Office and the state Human Affairs Commission, will include leaders from several religions. The event is free, but to reserve your space, call 325-2570 by Feb. 22.

©Copyright 2002, Herald - Rock Hill, S.C.

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