Media contact: Paul B. Raushenbush, Associate Dean of Religious Life, Princeton University, (609) 258-6245 or email@example.com
**Students from diverse religious traditions will lead summit on inter-religious engagement in higher education**
The fifth national conference for collegiate interfaith councils "Coming Together 5: A Venture Across Religious Boundaries" will be held Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 20 on the Princeton University campus. The event is for invited students from college campuses across the country.
[**While this event is NOT open to the public, reporters interested in covering the conference should contact Associate Dean Paul Raushenbush at (609) 258-6245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The conference promotes the importance of inter-religious engagement and understanding at American universities. It will provide student leaders from across the country with the opportunity to discuss how interfaith councils are formed, the role they have on campus and ideas for meaningful programs that promote unity and peace.
"It is said that the 20th century in America was about the race divide, and the 21st century will be about the religion divide," said Paul Raushenbush, Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton. "Responding to that need, Princeton University in 2006 hosted the first national summit of collegiate interfaith leaders called "Coming Together" to help bridge religious mistrust and division."
Building on the success of that first gathering, Johns Hopkins, University of Southern California, and University of Puget Sound each hosted subsequent "Coming Together" conferences, and the conference returns to Princeton this year.
"Coming Together 5" is student organized and focuses on peer-to-peer learning. Students are presenting workshops on topics such as Pluralism without Relativism; The Role of Secular Humanism in Inter-Religious Dialogue; Interfaith Diplomacy; and Faith And Ethics. Other events include Religious Open Houses for students to participate in worship and question and answer session from different religious communities; a Religion Night in the Princeton Art Museum with tours of religious art and performances of sacred music and dance; and a keynote speech from Dr. Eboo Patel, the head of the Interfaith Youth Core and member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.
Attendees include delegations from Stanford, Yale, University of Chicago, City College of New York, University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, Macalester, Texas Christian University, Rice University, Oberlin College, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and 25 other schools.
As religion increasingly factors into public life, interest in religion has dramatically risen among American college students, Raushenbush noted. Simultaneously, campuses have become more religiously diverse with Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh groups forming alongside mainline Christian, Evangelical and Jewish groups.
"Given the global international nature of the American university, the potential for religious conflict on campuses has grown. In response to this interest and diversity, college students have begun forming inter-religious councils that are seen as crucial mechanisms for maintaining a positive religious atmosphere on college campuses," Raushenbush said.
The Princeton University Religious Life Council (RLC), the organizer of this year's conference, is just one example of such efforts. The RLC is comprised of students from different religious backgrounds and ideological perspectives that are selected on the basis of their leadership ability to promote dialogue across religious boundaries and encourage campus-wide discussion of the role of religion and ethics in the personal, academic and societal arenas.
In addition to hosting the "Coming Together" conference, the Princeton Religious Life Council has sent delegations to Jordan, India, as well as to the Parliament of the World’s Religions at Barcelona and Melbourne.
**Reporters interested in covering the conference should contact Associate Dean Paul Raushenbush at (609) 258-6245 or email@example.com
Quotes from conference participants:
Jahnabi Baroah, Hindu Princeton Student
"As the world becomes increasingly diverse, it is vital to promote genuine respect and create bridges of understanding among people of various religious and non-religious backgrounds. CT5 serves that purpose by bringing together passionate young leaders who are committed to inter-religious engagement."
Sadjda Ouachtauki, Muslim Princeton Student:
"I hope to deepen my understanding of the role that inter-faith dialogue can have on college campuses and also be exposed to the many shapes and forms of inter-faith groups."
Alana Tornello, Catholic Princeton Student
"Religion is never easy, in practice or conversation. In order to orient and challenge our religious convictions it is essential to create a supportive community of students and faculty who can offer a variety of perspectives and backgrounds in a mutually respectful environment. "
Norm Bonnyman, Episcopalian Princeton Student, ROTC
"Interfaith leaders in our generation will determine the nature of the unprecedented inter-religious contact that will occur in our lifetimes. We need to acquire a broad and uncommon set of skills understanding to defy history and compel these interactions towards cooperation and not conflict. The Coming Together series of intercollegiate interfaith conferences is a critical experience for these leaders; the Princeton University Religious Life Council is very proud to once again host this event and to learn, share and break bread with our brothers and sisters from other universities."
Dean Paul Raushenbush:
"Coming Together is an inherently hopeful event. It provides evidence of the impressive young religious leaders who are rising up in America to promote appreciation and understanding across religious boundaries and create a more perfect Union."