Many faiths, one love: Conversation and community at the Interfaith Resource Fair


Lauren Hill

Students gather at the Hinduism resource table to talk and speak with representatives at the Interfaith Resource Fair on Feb. 19.

Lauren Hill, Features Editor

 The Common Grounds Club on CSU Bakersfield’s campus works tirelessly to display the colors of belief and religion that cover the world. Groups of students surrounded tables, and the smiles of representatives and attendees alike told the whole narrative of the Interfaith Resource Fair. 

  The Interfaith Resource Fair, held by the Common Grounds Club for their “Better Together Days,” took place on Feb. 19 in the Cafe Quad. Various tables were set up with representatives of religions such as Baha’i, New Thought, Islam, Unitarian Universalist, Judaism, Jainism, and Hinduism. 

  President of the Common Grounds Club Sumaiya Olia said the purpose of the Interfaith Resource Fair was to create a relaxed environment for students and to raise awareness of the different religions represented on campus. 

  “It’s a safe area to fulfill our curiosity […] It provides space for questions and increases discussion,” Olia said. 

  Fellow member of the Common Grounds Club Alejandro Oropeza said that the event also helps students get to know the different people and faces around campus. 

  Attendees grabbed pizza and walked around the different tables, meeting people and talking about what faith means to them. 

  The Baha’i table displayed a sign which showed “The Golden Rule” as it applies to different religions. The theme remains the same throughout; “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” 

  They suggested that the different religions may not be so different after all, as another sign reads, “The essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same.” 

  Portia Choi attended, representing the Unity Center of Bakersfield, an interdenominational church which practices New Thought. 

  According to Choi, New Thought is the belief that there is truth and wisdom in many practices of faith, and it’s an allied group that accepts everyone’s beliefs. 

  Choi also mentions Ernest Holmes, a New Thought writer and leader.  

  “He never wanted an organization, he just wanted to lecture,” Choi said. 

  Another group involved at the Interfaith Resource Fair was the Unitarian Universalists. 

  The Unitarian Universalist group had a fold out table coated in a rainbow tablecloth with pamphlets and bracelets and stickers for passersby to take.  

  Three representatives talked to students, one being Elizabeth Jackson. 

  Jackson said that the Unitarian Universalist faith is action-based rather than belief-based. Unitarians embrace acceptance of marginalized groups to find a common ground. 

  “The only true doctrine of the church is Love,” Jackson said. 

  A pamphlet offered at the table read, “We value spiritual growth and respect new learnings, so this community will always be available to you as a spiritual home regardless of how your beliefs may change.”  

  The Common Grounds Club held two other events during their Better Together Days.  

There was a viewing and discussion for the film “What Do You Believe?” and a luncheon discussion for staff and faculty to speak about engaging religious diversity at a public university.