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ASU conversation series gets students talking about religious misconceptions

Project Humanities builds community among people of different faiths


"Members of different faiths come together in hopes of creating a greater understanding." Illustration published on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

Students of different faiths and cultures are able to come together through the many different interfaith initiatives that ASU offers.

One of these, Dispelling the Myths: Religious Doctrine and Religious Dogma, is a series of public conversations hosted by Project Humanities that aims to encourage community building among people of different faiths.

“We hope (Dispelling the Myths) will be a place where people can be honest about their misconceptions,” said Neal Lester, director of Project Humanities.

Project Humanities is an award-winning initiative that has been recognized for its commitment to inclusivity and bettering intercultural relations.

Lester said he hopes the series will not only allow people to challenge misconceptions they might have about other faiths, but also to challenge misconceptions that other people may have about theirs.

He also said it is important to understand people with different beliefs and to learn to be empathetic towards people of different cultures at a time when hate crimes are on the rise.


Nafisa Thorpe, a global studies senior,  said she appreciates the initiative because it gives her the opportunity as a Muslim student to interact with people of different faiths, learn about their beliefs and educate them about what it is like to be Muslim.

“One misconception is that all Muslim women that wear the hijab are oppressed,” she said. 

However, Thorpe said she was never forced to wear a hijab by her parents, but instead chooses to wear one because it helps her feel in-tune with her culture. 

Thorpe also used the conflict between Palestine and Israel as an example of why it is important for people of different religions to come together and learn to understand each other. 

She said because religion is a frequent talking point in politics and the media, it cannot be ignored.  She said she hopes Dispelling the Myths can at least help people in the local community start a conversation between people of different faiths. 

ASU also has a student organization called Sun Devils are Better Together that promotes the education of different religious groups year round. ASU is also hosting Interfaith Harmony Week starting Feb. 1, a week-long event celebrating interfaith relations.

Nathan Hui, a biomedical engineering sophomore, said it is important to have spaces to be able to talk about religion and have an opportunity to challenge the bad reputations that some religions have.

Hui, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hopes that the series can help him challenge misconceptions people may have about his own faith.

He said that many people don't consider the Mormon faith a Christian denomination even though they believe in the bible and Jesus Christ. 

“Whether it's creating a more effective workplace or any other situation, being open creates a better environment,” Hui said. 

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