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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Religious affiliates debate faith’s role in social justice

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Religion?s role in social justice was debated and questioned
by University of Wisconsin students and local faith representatives at a panel
discussion Monday evening.

Representatives from St. Paul?s University Catholic Center,
the Muslim Students? Association and UW Hillel presented each religion?s stance
concerning social justice.


According to Joel Bennett, director of engagement for UW
Hillel, the Jewish perspective of social justice asserts the importance of
giving back to the community, although ultimately the actual reason for giving
is inconsequential.

?It is wonderful if you are giving for the right reasons,?
Bennett said. ?But at the end of the day it does not matter why you are doing
it, as long as you are doing it.?

?This problem needs to be taken up by all people who want to
fight for a more just society,? said Connie Nielson, representative for St.
Paul?s University Catholic Center. ?It is not just for Catholics, Muslims or
Jews to do on their own. It is a task that everyone has to do.?

Maha Hilal, graduate student and representative for the
Muslim Students? Association, explained the Islamic take on social justice in
the community.

?Islam not only encourages believers to work towards social justice,
but it also demands it of them,? Hilal said. ?Social justice is to be sought
for any cause and for any reason. It is an obligation.?

As the representatives portrayed the Islamic, Catholic and
Jewish outlooks of social justice, UW students spoke out as well.

?I think there is a big difference between social justice
and faith,? said Brad Frias, intern for St. Paul?s University Catholic Center.
?You do not need faith to be a person like Bill Gates, but if people are
faithful they are going to say, ?Yes, faith can add to social justice, and here
is why.??

Paula Tran, another UW student, said she is concerned
younger people are becoming less involved with community activity ? an issue
the panel did not address.

?I think especially now with our generation, we are seeing a
lot of apathy towards issue of social justice,? Tran said. ?But there is a
reason for why young people are becoming less and less involved in social
justice, and they did not say much about that.?

Students also said it is important to note that any donation
is important, no matter how large or how small.

?I think a lot of young people are getting the notion you
have to have a lot to give back,? said Courtney Nelson, a UW student. ?That is
definitely not true. You don?t need a $100 check to donate.?

Ultimately, the group presented ways to foster social
justice activism in the community by starting small, getting people on a more
personal level and asking people to different prayer services, said Allison
Vogel, member of the Leadership Through Social Justice Committee.

?The biggest things you can do is get angry, watch the news,
walk around campus with your eyes open, notice things and then do something
about it,? said Bennett. ?Part of being a leader is creating that change. Go
out and turn that conversation into action.?

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