October 26, 2016| By Alexa Brown — Last Thursday evening, a group of 13 students gathered in Dean of Graduate Programs Al Sturgeon’s living room for Pepperdine Law’s monthly Interfaith Student Council Dinner. Students began the discussion by introducing themselves and their faith backgrounds and/or current beliefs (or lack thereof). The religiously diverse group included beliefs stemming from Catholicism, Judaism, Atheism, Christian (Protestant, Nondenominational, and Church of Christ), Sikhism, and more. Board members Shannon Popovich (3L) and Michelle Zaks (3L) introduced the night’s topic: “What is the biggest misconception about your beliefs or lack of beliefs that you would like to speak to?” The question was open to the floor, allowing students to jump in and comment on each others remarks.
One misconception debunked was that not adhering to a religion meant one didn’t think or ponder about religion at all. In fact, one student mentioned that they thought about it quite often as well as prayed, although they weren’t positive at the present moment to whom or what they were praying. “I’m always trying to figure it out, and I think I always will be,” was a comment that resonated across all faiths.
Another misconception addressed was the idea that Catholics pray to Saints in place of God. Clarifying, a student explained that Catholics invoke help from Saints to pray alongside them to God, not in place of prayers to God. The student referenced Saint Christopher (the patron of safe travels) as an example, who is often seen on a medallion in vehicles. The idea is that the Saint is able to pray to God for a safe journey on behalf of the traveler, while they are in route.
Other questions that came as a result of conversation were, “Is the Bible a living, breathing, evolving document?” and ” How do you marry your liberal views with your religion?”
The dinner was catered by Subway, and lasted from 6:30-8pm, with some lingering to discuss more. The topic of the next Interfaith Student Council Dinner was hinted to include religious viewpoints within the realm of dating, and participants were encouraged to bring their partners or spouses. The next dinner is tentatively scheduled to take place at Dean Sturgeon’s home on Thursday, November 10th. Email Al Sturgeon for more details.
—Alexa Brown, Writer