LETTER: Fostering Discussion on Faith

To the editors:

We would like to respond to the Crimson’s Oct. 4, 2010 editorial, “Separation of Church and State.” The Harvard Chaplains see great value in education about religion in the public sphere.  Broad knowledge of the world’s religions helps us all to better understand current events, making us more enlightened citizens.  It’s a guide for personal maturation and allows us to value the wisdom contained in other systems of belief.

On Columbus Day, the Harvard Chaplains sponsored a “Congress on the Future of Faith at Harvard.”  Harvard students and chaplains discussed the challenges of a pluralistic response to a religiously diverse culture, the difference between tolerance and engagement, and the need for appreciation of universal values while maintaining important particular differences.

We could not have had those lively and helpful discussions without awareness of and respect for other traditions.  Our religious bodies and ethical societies communicate belief in depth to their adherents.  However, the curricula of primary and secondary schools transmit the fundamentals of culture that contribute to the health of a society through the sharing of ideas. The influence of world religions on history and on life belongs in our schools.

The more we know and appreciate, the better off we are in dealing with the sweeping trends of culture, and how best to receive new neighbors who have different customs.




Cambridge, Mass.

Oct. 12, 2010

The Reverend Don Larsen is the president of Harvard Chaplains, an umbrella organization of over 35 chaplains representing 25 of the world’s traditions, united in their commitment to supporting Harvard students, faculty, and staff.


Recommended Articles