Religion discussion panel gives students a voice

Megan Ferguson

Kent Student Center Programming sponsored a student voices event for those of various faiths to learn about different religious perspectives.

“When you learn about a new religion or culture, it will change how you see the world. You will hate less and have less ignorance,” said Anna Bright, a senior early childhood education major and Roman Catholic panelist. 

“The best way to fight off stereotypes is by asking people questions,” said Antigone Burke, a junior integrated science major.

Michael Humphreys, a panelist, sophomore business management major and part of Kent State’s Native American Student Association, said he believes in spirituality more than a set religion and encourages everyone to look for the spirituality in their life.

“Something as small as hitting a green light on your way to work is the spirit working for you,” Humphreys said.

Emanuel Jackson, a junior public relations major who is a panelist representing Southern Baptist Christians, stays in constant prayer throughout the day to feel a connection to God.

“Treat everyone with respect (and) kindness. You never know what someone is going through,” Humphreys said.

Learning to love and understand yourself and striving to become a better person is something Jackson values as a Southern Baptist Christian.

“I try to follow the path God has for me” Bright said.

She said she is stricter in her faith than her family, and because she believes in saving herself for marriage. Bright often deals with conflict in her family.

The panel also discussed sacred elements of each religion and appropriate clothing for worship.

Nadia Dansani, a Muslim junior accounting and computer operations major, said she lost a lot of friends when she began to wear her hijab in elementary school.

When the panel was asked if they ever felt discriminated or targeted because of their religion, many students responded emotionally.

Karen Isaacs, a sophomore electronic media production major, said her brother was targeted for being Jewish more so than she was.

Isaacs said people have told him comments reminiscent of the Holocaust. Such comments have made Isaacs stay quiet about her religion. However, she said she now feels comfortable in the Jewish community at Kent State.

Dansani shared her own experience of having a photo taken of her hair and publicly shared via social media without her permission.

Hair is sacred in the Muslim religion, and Dansani said the only person who should see a woman’s hair is her husband or close female family members.

“For religion specifically, we want to reveal how each religion impacts people’s lives, the connectedness religions can have and breakdown stereotypes,” said Elise Carney, a sophomore nursing major and event planner for Kent State student center programming.

The hosts asked panelists questions to start the discussion and and then answered inquiries from the audience for a more engaging conversation.

“People have the right to pray and follow a religion and in no way should that affect how that person is treated by others,” Carney said.

Megan Furguson is the student life and religion reporter, contact her at [email protected].