Know Your Neighbor: Inter-Religious Council joins with Cedar Rapids library for community discussions about religion

Know Your Neighbor: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity

Cedar Rapids Public Library — Monday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Cedar Rapids Public Library — photo by Lauren Shotwell

Starting Monday, Jan. 8, the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County is joining forces with the Cedar Rapids Public Library on three Know Your Neighbor community discussions, each focused on three different religions.

“One of the goals of the library is to increase literacy and one important form of literacy is religious literacy,” Charles Crawley, president of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, said. “If you want to love your neighbor you need to know them, and know about what’s important to them.”

The series starts off with a moderated discussion about Baha’i, Buddhism and Christianity this Saturday, and will continue on Feb. 12 to talk about Hinduism, Humanism and Islam. On March 12, the discussion will focus on Judaism, Native American and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions. Each religion will be represented by individuals from those different religious traditions.

The religious council, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, hosts a few different events each year, including an interfaith Thanksgiving service and an April Holocaust remembrance service. Crawley said that in the last year, the Trump administration’s efforts to implement a travel ban focused on Muslim-majority countries and other divisive actions have spurred the group to be more vocal.

“Last year, we hosted a show of unity for refugees and immigrants. We felt we had to take a stand because we felt that member religions were under attack,” Crawley said. “Trump’s tweets and statements, they are not helpful at all to our interfaith efforts.”

He noted that many of the religions represented by members of the group would be considered minority religions in the United States, which means that they often remain hidden within Iowa communities. He said he hopes the event piques people’s interest in the different religions, and encourages them to learn more.

“These religions actually represent very big parts of the world, and if we want to get to know and understand the world better we need to understand and get to know these groups living in our communities,” Crawley said. “It’s really a big world out there and we need to learn more about it.”

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