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Panelists discuss religion and democracy on Purdue's campus

The group discussed the role religion plays in the pursuit of democracy, civility and the freedom of expression.

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 12:31 AM
Updated: Feb 20, 2020 12:45 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Purdue University is continuing the conversation around religion and democracy. The university held an event Wednesday that invited six experts on different aspects of religion.

The panel included Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Arun Gandhi. The group discussed the role religion plays in the pursuit of democracy, civility and the freedom of expression.

There has been controversy on Purdue's campus regarding Chick-Fil-A opening a restaurant because of its views on LGBTQ rights. Panelist Reza Aslan said this shouldn't be a complicated issue if we focus Purdue's values.

"It's not an issue of free speech if you choose to say no to and organization whose core values violate the university's mission statement," he said.

As we previously reported, the Purdue University Senate passed the Inclusion Resolution, which says that any entities that want to operate on campus must have same inclusion standards as the university. 

Separation of church and state is a constant struggle seen in American politics. Panelist Melissa Rogers broke down how the constitution views religion in our democracy.

"Everyone stands on level ground before the government. People of all faiths and none," she said. "That is a precious promise in our constitution and we need to align our practices better with our promises."

Dr. Gandhi is the President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. He said with less than 50% of Americans voting, we need to better at executing our democratic responsibility.

"We call ourselves a democracy. If you don't shoulder your responsibility to go and vote then you don't have any right to complain about what's going on in that country," he said.

Other panelists included MSNBC contributor Ron Reagan, Sarah Hurwitz, who was the speechwriter to Former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rev. Naomi Tutu, who is the founder of non-profit educational group Nozizwe Consulting. The panel was moderated by Amy Goodman, who is a journalist and host of TV show Democracy Now!

This is the second in a series of events scheduled throughout the semester. Click here to find a list of other upcoming events and a biography of the panelists at Wednesday's event.

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