Religious Diversity in the Workplace and in Schools- Whose Job is it?
by Judie Kuhlman
In our changing cultural landscape and the rise of tensions throughout our country, a group of diverse Women of Faith have recognized that we can no longer play the silence card when it comes to our religious diversity. So then, what role can we play? They identified the need to dialogue with one another and create safe places in order to discuss our diversity. On November 3rd the Women of Faith hosted their second annual event addressing the Women’s Role in our Changing Faith Community. This event focused on the impact women can play in educating our community about Religious Diversity in our Schools and at Workplace. The Women of Faith hosted Deborah J. Levine who is an award-winning author and speaker of religious literacy. She has written books including Religious Diversity in Our Schools and Religious Diversity at Work: Guide to Religious Diversity in the US Workplace.
Through Levine's experience, the majority of schools and workplaces do not know how to handle various religious practices, food, dress and holy days. Levine advocates that our schools and work places “skillfully facilitate dialogues where participants can share key aspects of their beliefs…this can work wonders in debunking myths and stereotypes, build trust, and lessen the potential conflicts based on religion.”
By learning more about one another, we actually bring the “other” closer to us uncovering a holiness and truth about our uniqueness. Abraham Joshua Heschel remarks, “No Religion is and Island…We are all involved with one another. Views adopted in one community have an impact on other communities.” We need to allow for these impacts to be fruitful and not harmful. Levine teaches us to “harmonize” and not to “homogenize.” Often times, it is as easy as not putting pepperoni on that pizza or making a space for prayer at work. Through her books and workshops, Levine offers guidelines that can help employers and schools work through common religious questions.
We do need to recognize our responsibility as people of faith to help our schools and employers through this process of understanding. We can each look at our own faith teachings as a source of why we should. From the Roman Catholic document Nostra Aetate, “We cannot truly call on God the Father of all if refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God.”
For additional information, please read Deborah Levine’s article in the Huffington Post.
This event was partnered with American Jewish Committee, The Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Jewish Community Relations Council and generous support from Xavier University.