Sixty-five students, two years, fifteen faith communities, one freedom. This may be one way to summarize the numbers behind an eye-opening experience for dozens of Drake University students who set out to understand various religious traditions found in Iowa.
Their project turned into a book titled, “A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland,” which students hope will help people gain a greater appreciation and understanding for what motivates others to live and worship as they do.
A few of the students associated with this project, along with their professor, Dr. Timothy Knepper, will share some of their experiences and impressions as part of the fourth annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day Celebration in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, April 13, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. A short program will feature the students during the noon hour. The public is invited to attend a non-partisan event to learn from the students and other speakers about the value of religious diversity and religious freedom.
Bishop Richard E. Pates of the Des Moines Diocese will open the short program at noon after Dowling Catholic High School students sing the national anthem. At the 2016 celebration, Bishop Pates stressed the concept that “the cornerstone of freedom is religious liberty, for it speaks to the freedom that should be inherent in each person and guarantees the expression of that which is at the heart of individual conscience and conviction.”
At a time when the term religious freedom itself is either misused or maligned, event organizers hope the public discussion will promote dialogue, respect, and cooperation when it comes to ensuring space for faith in a pluralistic and civil society.
For more information about the April 13th event, visit www.iowareligiousfreedomday.org.