Interfaith Education and Informational Resource Page
This page is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of all faiths, spiritualities, and belief systems. The Interfaith Center in Oxford, OH ‘s goal is to bridge the gap between knowledge and active pursuit of understanding. This page can be used as a resource for anyone looking to learn more about different faiths and engage in interfaith dialogue and information-seeking, and is organized in alphabetical order. If your respective faith is not listed, please reach out to us and share a short, informational paragraph so we can make this page as inclusive, diverse, and wealthy in knowledge as possible.
*Please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive, and that these descriptions reflect individual faith perspectives; as such, they are not intended to be representative of traditions as a whole, and may not necessarily represent the beliefs of all adherents.*
Bahá’í Faith by Dr. Deborah Clark Vance
Bahá’u’lláh (“The Glory of God”), Revealer of the Bahá’í message, proclaimed that we’re all united in spirit -- there’s one God, one humanity and one common faith sent by God through great prophets Bahá’ís call Manifestations of God. God is transcendent and can't be known directly but can be known through the spiritual teachings revealed by the Manifestations of God Who are united in proclaiming the need for us to prepare and educate our souls with the virtues and attributes we need in this world and all the worlds of God. Where the Manifestations of God differ is in social laws that necessarily change across time and place. Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent of the Manifestations and has brought teachings for today. He has revealed a system that replaces clergy and is God-centered in justice, love and unity in diversity. Bahá’ís gather once every 19 days for the monthly 19-day Feast where we worship, socialize and consult together on actions to be carried out. Such consultation requires eliminating all prejudice to let all voices be heard as we build a loving, just community. Elections to the local and national administrative bodies and an international one occur without campaigning or discussion of names.
Christianity (Evangelical) by Faith Hadley
Christians believe that God is an intimate and personal God who created us to be in a perfect relationship with Him. He is perfect in all areas – including love, holiness, justice, and truth. He loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. In a relationship with Him, we are promised many things – including abundant life, joy, and peace.
However, because of our stubborn self-will, we chose to go our own way. We live life according to our terms, rather than God’s, breaking our fellowship with Him. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is what the Bible calls sin.
The consequence of our sin is separation from God. Because God is morally and spiritually perfect--what Christians call “holy”--He cannot be around our sin. Separation from God causes spiritual death.
God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, as the provision for our sin. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth and was guilty of no sin. This allowed His death on the cross to take our place, to pay for the penalty of our sins. Even while we were still sinners, He died for us. However, He conquered death and rose from the grave.
By individually believing and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives. Through faith in who Jesus is and what He has done for us, our sins are forgiven, and our relationship is restored. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, leading and empowering Christians in the process of sanctification. With the debt of our sins paid for, those who believe get to spend eternity in Heaven with God. This is a free gift of grace that is offered to anyone.
Friends (or Quakers) by Cecilia Shore
As Friends, we believe that there is “that of God in every person”. This core belief shapes all of Friends’ faith and practice. Because we believe that every person has access to the Light Within, we seek to follow the Spirit as it is revealed in our own experience, rather than dogma, and our worship grows out of silent waiting for the awareness of truth. Because we believe in the Divine Spark in all persons, we are called to seek nonviolence and social justice. Because we see that environmental degradation is often tied to war and injustice, we seek an earth restored.
Top 10 reasons I am a Quaker https://quakerspeak.com/top-10-reasons-quaker/
Discover the Quaker Way https://www.fgcquaker.org/discover
Oxford (OH) Friends Meeting https://oxfordfriendsmeeting.org/ (includes social media links)
Contact us: OxfordOHQuakers@gmail.com (Oxford Friends Meeting--Quakers)
Islam by Dr. Fatima Emlemdi
Islam is a monotheistic religion. The main message of Islam is monotheism (Tawheed) which is the same central message sent by God to all prophets and thereby Muslims believe Islam is based on the Judeo-Christian religion. For me as a Muslim, Islam is a religion and a way of life to attain complete peace through voluntary submission to the divine God (Allah). Muslims believe in the Quran is a word of God that was spoken by Angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhamed. There are five main practices in Islam that most Muslims do and follow which are:
The statement of faith that all Muslims recite at least once in their lifetime.
A daily ritual prayer, five times a day
Charity which given yearly based on wealth and saving to benefit the poor
Fasting a month each year
Pilgrimage to the birthplace of the prophet, Meccah, Once in a lifetime.
Most Muslims apply the Quran and the teaching of the prophet in their daily life which we call Shari'ah in Arabic. Shari'ah is a law or a code of ethics, morals, and values that are based on the Quran and the saying of the prophet.
Jihad is the struggle a devoted Muslim goes through to achieve the highest level of righteousness. It has nothing to do with killing in the name of God or hurting others. According to Islam, the hardest jihad is that the jihad each Muslim does and fights with his own inner and soul to better himself.
The main purpose of practices in Islam and Islamic morality is love and kindness toward others as stated by the prophet's saying "Religion is an attitude."
Judaism by Alan Edelman
Established in approximately 1900 BCE (Before the Common Era), Judaism is the first of the monotheistic faiths. In the 12th Chapter of the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (and New Testament), God and Abramham entered into an eternal covenant, in which Abraham pledged loyalty to God in exchange for becoming a great nation and receiving the Promised Land as an inheritance. After the Children of Israel were enslaved for 430 years in the Land of Egypt, God sent the prophet Moses to help free the people. Seven weeks after leaving Egypt, the people arrived at Mt. Sinai and received the commandments. The Five Books of Moses, known as Torah ("instruction") contain 613 commandments, which represent the blueprint for Jewish life. Most of the commandments related to the ancient Temple worship, so today there are approximately 250 commandments incumbent upon those who observe the faith. These commandments include ritual observances as well as moral and ethical teachings, many of which have been adopted by other western religions. Following the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE (Common Era), Rabbinic Judaism was established and has continued to interpret our sacred tradition to keep Judaism relevant for each new generation. The covenant is alive and well with Jews living throughout the world, including in the modern State of Israel.
Paganism by Dr. Candace Kant
Paganism is both an ancient and a contemporary spirituality. The word “Pagan” comes from the Latin “paganus” referring to a person from a rural area. Paganism dates to at least 30,000 years ago but has adapted to the contemporary context. Paganism recognizes a plurality of divine beings, sees the material world as theophany, a manifestation of the sacred, and recognizes the multitude of ways divinity can be embodied. Pagan religious practice focuses on ritual which celebrates natural cycles, such as the stations of the Sun, the cycles of the Moon, and the seasons of the agricultural and pastoral year. Pagans honor life transitions with ritual and celebration. Pagans value cultivating the self, one’s community, and the earth while avoiding harm to others. Paganism is a spirituality of experience and practice, with no dogma, required beliefs, scripture, authorities, a single founder, or a single belief system. Paganism is an eclectic and expansive spirituality with many forms of expression. Pagans may practice in groups, or by themselves as solitaries. Modern Paganism is not a monolithic movement, but a tapestry blending innumerable traditions from many eras and areas.
Secular Humanism by Jason Bracken
I view secular humanism as the combination of an ontological philosophy promoting naturalism, an epistemological philosophy promoting logic and empiricism, and a moral philosophy promoting the value, rights, and welfare of living beings.
Humanism is a belief that morality should be centered on the well-being of people, rather than responsive to a belief in supernatural directives. And that truth should be sought through evidence and logic rather than divine revelation. It is a philosophy that desires human flourishing and promotes human agency that grants that each person should have the power to decide for themselves, but believes that truth and morality is best served without appeal to superstition or dogma.
“I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without rewards or punishment after I am dead.”
“When we speak of equality, of women and men, of blacks and whites, of all the world’s people, we are talking about humanism.”
“Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests.”
Sikhi by Navkiran Chima
Sikhi is a monotheistic religion founded in the 15th century by the first of ten gurus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached a message of love and understanding and criticized the blind rituals of the Hindus and Muslims, especially the caste system which degraded many people to below second-class citizens or “untouchable”. The final living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji established the Khalsa order (meaning 'The Pure'), or saint-soldiers. The Khalsa upholds the highest Sikh virtues of commitment, dedication and a social conscience. The Khalsa also must follow the 5 K's, two of the more noticeable being Kes, or uncut hair which is often found in a turban, and the Kirpan, or the ceremonial sword.
Other values the Khalsa holds are universal oneness and love for humanity, selfless service and charity, humility, and belief in equality of all beings. Sikhs believe in One God, “Waheguru”, and believe God is omnipresent. Before his death in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared that the Sikhs no longer needed a living and appointed his spiritual successor as Sri Guru Granth Sahib and his physical successor as the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh felt that all the wisdom needed by Sikhs for spiritual guidance in their daily lives could be found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is unique in the world of religious scriptures because not only is it accorded the status of being the spiritual head of the Sikh religion, but besides the scriptures of the Gurus, it also contains the writings of saints of other faiths whose thoughts were consistent with those of the Sikh Gurus. All people of all religions are welcome at the Gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship. A free community kitchen can be found at every Gurdwara which serves meals to all people of all faiths. Sikhs also follow the concept of “miri-piri” which combines temporal power and spiritual authority. This concept allowed for a Sikh army and empire to emerge, one that fought for the principles of Sikhi, equality and justice, to be upheld. Today, Sikhi is the fifth largest religion in the world and its roots are traced back to the Punjab region of South Asia, although the Sikh diaspora is growing. The holiest place for Sikhs is called Sri Harmandir Sahib, or the Darbar Sahib Complex, which includes the Akal Takht, or the Throne of the Timeless One, and represents Sikh sovereignty and is located in Amritsar, Punjab, India, although many other Sikh historical sites are located in Pakistan.
Miami University Sikh Student Association: Find on the HUB or instagram @mu_sikhi
Guru Nanak Society of The Greater Cincinnati Area http://gurunanaksociety.org/
Unitarian Universalism by Denali Selent
Unitarian Universalism is known as a liberal religion and is non-denominational, meaning people from all religions, spiritualities, and beliefs are welcomed. While no two UU congregations are the same, the religion is characterized by seven guiding principles that promote the peaceful joining together of people, each on their own individually defined spiritual journey. Many worship sessions incorporate readings and practices from a diversity of religions and spiritualities, and additionally, the church holds celebrations for many major holidays. Being a member of a UU church often allows one to learn open-mindedness, to celebrate differences, and to always treat others with compassion.
Catholicism by Kathleen Sellers
I was a little girl, no more than seven or eight, when my mother took me to climb The Steps for the first time. I was the third generation of women in my family to participate in this tradition, and I was eager to follow in the footsteps, literally, of my grandmother, a devoted Catholic woman who had passed long before I was born. This was a day I had been looking forward to, and I remember it was crisp, though daffodils added their hopeful blooms to the gray damp of that Good Friday afternoon. "Of course it would be gray today," I thought, "the whole world should be sad that Jesus suffered and died." That's why we were at The Steps, to remember that occasion, marking it one rosary bead and Hail Mary at a time, as we climbed the 85 steps to the doors of Immaculata Church, in the Mount Adams neighborhood of Cincinnati.
Each year, save one, since the Church opened its doors in 1860, Catholics have been going on pilgrimage there on Good Friday. Like Jesus carried his cross to Calvary, the hill where he was crucified, Catholics carry their rosaries up the hill of Mount Adams, the hill upon which Immaculata stands, overlooking the city of Cincinnati.
Whether or not you are familiar with this Catholic tradition, if you have driven north through Cincinnati from Kentucky, you have probably seen this Church, standing watch on the northeast hill, framing the city's skyline. At night, it's illuminated, a beacon of light for all to see.
Starting at midnight each Good Friday, and lasting a full twenty-four hours, Catholics from all over the region will pray their way to the top of the steps. In the years I participated in this tradition, I've met friends and strangers, some from as far away as Tennessee, who have descended on Mount Adams to participate in this collective spiritual practice. By noon on Good Friday, rain or shine, a line of pilgrims will usually be looping from the base of the steps, down and around the block. While most devotees join this line on St. Gregory Street, a committed few may join by way of the very start of The Steps, near the Ohio River, at the base of Mount Adams itself. Whichever path they take, all pilgrims climb the same way: with each step, a new bead of the rosary is grasped and another prayer is recited, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...." This contemplative practice is mirrored in the slow shuffle of feet, the groups of bowed heads, and ripple of the crowd as hundreds of people snake up the hillside, looking from a distance like a river of faithful flowing against the pull of gravity.
Throughout my childhood, this local pilgrimage marked the end of my Lenten journey, those 40 days of fasting and penance, like Jesus spent in the desert, which were meant to prepare Catholics spiritually for the holiest day of the year, Easter, when Jesus Christ is believed to have been raised from the dead. Seeing those hundreds, even thousands of other faithful people, gathered together for this final journey of faith, was a physical reminder each year that for all my individual struggle during Lent, I was struggling in solidarity with others, friends and strangers alike. I was not alone.
Not so, last year.
2020 was the first time since Immaculata was built that pilgrims were not welcomed to The Steps on Good Friday. Churches everywhere were closed because of COVID-19, and newly-implemented social distancing protocols meant even this outdoor pilgrimage risked novel contagion. So began a year of collective struggle--struggle for justice, struggle for healing, struggle to get through one more day of social isolation. In many ways, it's felt as though Lent 2020 never ended. We have just endured, each in our own deserts of spiritual and social isolation, yearning for transformation but unsure of when, or if, it might come. But, no more.
Today, not two weeks from Good Friday 2021, Immaculata announced pilgrims will be welcome to return to The Steps this year. Yes, it will be different--there will be safety measures in place, measures we've all grown accustomed to--but more importantly, I hope that we will be different. Kinder, more patient, more grateful for the blessings in our lives.
I know the pandemic is not yet over. I know that this year of penance in the desert will continue, likely well beyond Good Friday 2021. But as I climb The Steps in a few weeks, I will be thinking a lot more about those hopeful daffodils than the gray skies that have been looming all year. There's a lot to be grateful for; having the chance to be a pilgrim again, praying together in our struggles, is just one of them.