By Sydney Falchook
If you peek your head into almost any classroom after the bell rings for dismissal at 2:33, rooms are still filled with students attending club meetings. At South, over 60 different clubs exist, seven of them focusing on a specific religion and the values entailed by that religion. This year, however, the Religious Tolerance Club was initiated by juniorGabrielle D. in an attempt to highlight the similarities between religions.
Gabrielle began thinking of the club after conversing with her friends about their religious beliefs. She found they really did not know much about other religions besides their own. “Much of the discrimination and prejudice around the world against certain religious groups is due to lack of knowledge about these religions, which then causes unnecessary fear and hatred,” Gabrielle said.
The club’s purpose is to teach and practice how religion is something through which people can connect, no matter what belief system is followed. Students of all different backgrounds are able to come together, sharing their opinions and beliefs, learning what hadn’t been known before.
Though South is a religiously tolerant place, in the world today there is great conflict over religious beliefs. By students understanding other religions, they help prevent ignorance as well as further issues and misunderstandings, something the Religious Tolerance Club strives to teach. According to Gabrielle, “Whatever people learn in the club is something they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”
At weekly meetings, club members discuss a different religion through methods such as prayer or celebration. According to Junior Rachel Levin, “We will be starting meetings with programs informing and educating all of the members, as well as the rest of the school, about the different religions that exist.” Other active members include Alexandra Chen, Irene Lee, Eleanor L., Michelle B., and Navya S.
With the holidays approaching, the club hopes to demonstrate how the different religious ceremonies are very much alike. Levin said, “We will be showing everyone, not just the club, how holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are similar.” The club hopes to involve the whole school as well, as posters have been made to spread awareness of religious tolerance.
“I hope that this just brings people closer together. I want people to have an outlet where they can come and talk about their religion,” Gabrielle said. The Religious Tolerance Club invites people of all religions, and even those who don’t consider themselves religious, to attend club meetings to hear about practices besides their own.