Baha'i News -- Iowa State U. peace groups have different motives

Iowa State U. peace groups have different motives

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University is home to a number of organizations that promote peace and unity through a variety of means. Some are motivated by religious passions, while others are fueled by secular goals.

Arlington Fink, professor of mathematics, said Iowa State has a very conservative environment that makes it difficult for such groups to be active.

"The environment here is not always receptive to ideas of those who oppose the mainstream," Fink said.

Fink, who is a member of the traditionally pacifist Society of Friends, said religion plays a large role in his pacifist outlook.

"Pacifists don't take sides on issues -- we're for both sides," Fink said. "[Pacifists] look for peaceful resolutions for conflict."

Religion plays a dominant role in the mission of another traditionally pacifist campus organization, the Baha'i Student Association. Timothy Radloff, former president of the organization, said the group has no specific political mission, however.

Radloff said the organization is based on the teachings of the Baha'i faith, which promotes such principles as faith and unity.

"Involvement with political issues involves taking sides, and the Baha'i faith takes the stand of not taking one side or another," said Radloff, a graduate student in sociology. "We believe that higher principles of faith and justice are more important."

Amelia Mease, president of the Baha'i Student Association, said there is more to the Baha'i faith than "just peace."

"In politics, it's always one group vs. another group," said Mease, sophomore in biology. "However, peace is not always about political issues."

One such group, Time For Peace, was formed the evening of Sept. 11. Matt Denner, a member of the group, said the organization's purpose is to raise awareness for a nonviolent response to the terrorist attacks.

Time For Peace has maintained a steady level of activity, holding weekly vigils and demonstrations on Central Campus in order to "maintain constant contact with the student population," said Denner, sophomore in political science.

"Our original goal was to loudly call for an alternative to direct violent action and hope that legislators and government officials would consider nonviolent routes in punishing those who committed these violent acts," Denner said.

He said not all members oppose any form of violence as a means of resolving conflict.

"There are those who oppose all war, those who oppose the current war and those who feel the United States hasn't fought a just war in over half a century," Denner said.

©Copyright 2002, Iowa State Daily

Page last updated/revised 020426
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page