Ben Crane creates space for interfaith dialogue with panel discussion

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Ben Crane creates space for interfaith dialogue with panel discussion

Ben Crane

Ben Crane

Photo courtesy of Ben Crane

Ben Crane

Photo courtesy of Ben Crane

Photo courtesy of Ben Crane

Ben Crane

Lily Flores '19, Staff Writer

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Ben Crane ’19 hosted the Religion and Ethics Panel as part of his Founders’ Fellowship from the Hebrew Union College on Feb. 21 in Hardie Auditorium.

Though some students say it is easy to forget Rhodes’s Presbyterian roots, Crane is working to bring religious conversations back to campus. In planning this event, Crane said he hoped to prove that “the Abrahamic faiths are perhaps not as different as they are often thought to be.” 

President Hass, Hamid Shirwany ’19 and Christian Brothers University President John Smarrelli spoke on the panel, representing Judaism, Islam and Christianity respectively. Chaplain Beatrix Weil and Rabbi Jeremey Simons introduced the panel. Weil  called the event a “brave exploration.”

The panelists discussed the ways their religious backgrounds have influenced their campus leadership. Hass in particular has received attention for being Rhodes’s first female Jewish president. 

Crane asked the panel about the tensions between religious teachings and modern life. Shirwany shared his experience coming to terms with his Islamic faith when it was in opposition to modern beliefs. In the end, he said, he reconciled that the personal beliefs you hold should not be imposed on others. 

Those in attendance said the panel accomplished its goal of motivating productive interfaith dialogue, as well as informing the audience about the diverse religious leaders making change in the Memphis community. 

Crane will host another event through his fellowship in April focused on the Syrian refugee crisis.