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Letters to the Editor

Diverse values

Jeff Hamilton October 26th, 2011

Diversity has always been a factor of significance. That was the message of Jill Carroll as keynote speaker on “The Challenges of Religious Diversity” on Oct. 18 for the annual meeting of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma.

Carroll, who holds a doctorate, is a Houston-based scholar who specializes in issues of religion, politics and cultural diversity. She traced the history of diversity in our country. Since 1965, we live in an America that is much richer in diversity than it was before that date. That diversity includes ethnicity, culture and religion.

So the question is not whether there should be such diversity; rather, diversity just is. It is not about morality, but demographics.

First, to espouse a religious program for “returning” America or Oklahoma to a monolithic sectarian view, as seen in the Reclaiming America For Christ crusade, is not in keeping with the founders of this nation who wrote freedom of religion into the Constitution.

Such efforts have political overtones when they are apparently endorsed by politicians such as James Lankford, Scott Pruitt and Sally Kern. But such efforts are out of touch with the reality of America, which may well be the most religiously diverse country in the world. In short, religious diversity is an American value.

Second, the personal question for each of us, no matter our individual race or religion, is, “How am I going to grow into the kind of person who is appreciative of diversity?” Carroll noted that those who wish to achieve top-level management positions in major corporations will do the inner work that enables them to function creatively in the midst of diversity.

The good news is that in OKC we have many who are doing that creative inner work. This is seen in groups like the Respect Diversity Foundation, Religions United of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and the Amazing Faiths dialogue dinners being organized by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma.

—Jeff Hamilton
Midwest City

Hamilton is president of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma.

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