October 14, 2016, BY Sherri Kimmel

Ignorance about different faiths can lead people to paint all religions with which they are unfamiliar with a broad brush, as "the other," says the Rev. John Colatch, university chaplain and director of religious life. Manisha Chase '16, one of Bucknell's former religious leaders, observed such stigmatizing as a Sikh.

"After 9/11, the first hate crime occurred against a Sikh man," says Chase, who is now a Fulbright scholar in England. "Much of the media portrayal of extremist men shows them with long beards and turbans like Sikh men. It is troubling to think that you will be wrongly persecuted or scapegoated because of how you look. It's important to us Sikhs that our Muslim brothers and sisters are treated well, because if affects us directly."

As adviser to the Interfaith Council, Colatch advocates openness to faiths not in the mainstream, especially during this election season. To further this goal, a dinner discussion in mid-September addressed how people of faith should respond to the politics of "the other."

Colatch's office also sponsored a talk Oct. 18, "Becoming Spiritually Grounded in this Dislocated Age," by Diana Butler Bass, author of Grounded: Finding God in the World — A Spiritual Revolution.

"Her book is really timely," says Colatch. "Sometimes when you're an author, politics turns in your favor. She has tried to write a book about what we have in common."

What Bucknell students have in common with the electorate in general is a similar percentage who claim no religious affiliation — at Bucknell, 27 percent of students check no choice, none or no response when asked for religious preference; 20 percent of registered U.S. voters are in the category of religious "nones," according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Of the Bucknell students who express a religious preference, one-third are Catholic, one-third are Protestant, 8 percent are Jewish, and 1 percent are Muslim. Being in the minority, "our Muslim students often feel they have to look over their shoulder," Colatch says. "Interfaith Council's goal is to be allies for one another. We live that every day."

Politics in the Fall 2016 issue of Bucknell Magazine


Beyond Belief

Illustration by Nancy Harrison

Is religion still a driver in electoral outcomes? Though its influence is in decline overall, for some alumni, students, faculty and staff, faith is still a critical determinant in their voting behavior.

Read More

Voting for Inclusion

Ignorance about different faiths can lead people to paint all religions with which they are unfamiliar with a broad brush, as "the other," says the Rev. John Colatch, university chaplain and director of religious life. Manisha Chase '16, one of Bucknell’s former religious leaders, observed such stigmatizing as a Sikh.

Read More

Inside the Beltway

Though they chart different orbits in the national political theater, David Hawkings '82, Katie Malague '94 and Brad Walp '01 have a Washington, D.C., vantage point in common.

Read More

Seeing the True Islam

Kabir Uddin '19; photo by Timothy Sofranko

"As a Muslim born in America, I find myself in a very tough spot. This idea that being innately American and being Muslim are two mutually exclusive things is a tough pill for me to swallow."

Read Kabir's essay
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