Panel to discuss religious doubt and diversity Thursday

By Brigid Lowney | March 21, 2018 11:30pm

In the wise words of George Michael, “let’s talk about faith, faith, faith.” Faith is a topic that students often shy away from for fear judgement or worry they might offend another person’s beliefs. For many, faith is a personal and spiritual journey and it can be difficult to talk about, especially when you’re questioning or having doubts. 

On Thursday, Diversity & Inclusion Programs is breaking the ice with a discussion-based event called “Doubting Your Faith: A View Through Diverse Religions” at 12:00 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Room in the Chiles Center. The event will feature discussions about struggling with faith through the perspectives of Hinduism, Judaism and Islam.

“The whole mission behind this event is to raise voices of folks who identify with religions outside of the Catholic perspective that are members of our community,” Diversity and Inclusion Programs coordinator, Yuri Hernandez Osorio, said.

Only 41 percent of this year’s freshman class identify as Catholic. Over the past five years, freshman classes have produced similar statistics, with 40-45 percent identifying as Catholic. The religious affiliation of the remaining 60 percent of the student body is not recorded on UP’s website, but a variety of religions are represented on UP’s campus

The event will feature speakers from both inside and outside of the UP community to get a well-rounded perspective. Speakers will include Naveen Gudigantal from the Pamplin School of Business, Shaheed Haamid, Khalid H. Khan from the Shiley School of Engineering, and Elyssa Hurwitz. A panel of three UP students will also be speaking and leading the discussion.

After the speakers present to the larger audience, everyone will break up into small group discussions. Talking about religion can be intimidating and small groups will allow students to discuss their faith more intimately, Hernandez Osorio explained.

To attend the event, students must RSVP by emailing student diversity coordinator Dianna Salgado at There are 50 spots available and about 20 spots remain as of Wednesday afternoon. Lunch will be provided. 

Multiple forces came together to make this event happen. Fr. Claude Pomerleau, who is moderating the discussion, has expressed a lot of passion for this event and, as a Catholic priest, wants to open up a dialogue about doubting your from multiple religious perspectives, Hernandez Osorio explained. 

“Everybody goes through that exploration phase with their faith,” Hernandez Osorio said. “It’s a natural step in the process of your spirituality and I don’t think we should shy away from that.”