California Lutheran University is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, but it welcomes students of all religious backgrounds.
There are a variety of courses, such as Intro to Indian Thought, Biblical Hebrew and Islam, which gives students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of religions outside of Christianity.
Several faith clubs on campus are associated with denominations other than Christianity, including the Muslim Student Association, Secular Student Alliance and Hillell – the Jewish organization on campus. These clubs promote diversity and influence the identity of CLU.
The Muslim Student Association, which meets every Monday at 5 p.m. in Humanities 114, started last year after its president, senior Shireen Ismail, noticed a lack of Muslim representation on campus.
“There was no club dedicated to spreading awareness and knowledge about Islam, as well as students who are Muslim American or Muslims who want to get to know each other. There was a need for a club like that,” Ismail said.
The open minds on campus make it easy for students of different denominations to gather and discuss their religious beliefs. Each club is able to share its culture and traditions with other students around campus.
The Secular Student Alliance is a community on campus that discusses and explores beliefs of all religions. They take weekend visits to different places of worship, including Catholic churches and Buddhist temples.
The club is open to students of all religions, even though their focus is on non-religion. Their meetings are Sundays at 8 p.m. in the Grace residence hall lounge.
“We have the ability to explore faith and reason, through a student body that wants to actively explore those things. We have been blessed, if you will, to have a student body that very actively is questioning and wants to question and wants to ask why. CLU has a very questioning Lutheran tradition and I think it really coincides with the Secular Student Alliance tradition,” said senior Michael Frieda, president of the SSA.
“Our campus is pretty open and our environment is pretty open to the discussion of religion and that kind of thought. Our campus is really interfaith friendly,” Ismail said.
Hillel is a Jewish club, but like many other faith clubs, it is inclusive to all faiths. They discuss Jewish culture and faith the first Wednesday of every month in the Samuelson Chapel lounge at 6:30 p.m.
Similar to other faith clubs, Hillell does not struggle to find an identity on campus, even though they are not Lutheran based.
“We celebrate all of our holidays, discussing how we can incorporate aspects of Judaism into everyday life and attending services and ceremonies together. We celebrate the Jewish traditions and family,” said Hillell president Allison Himber.
The identity of CLU is not defined solely by the “Lutheran” in its name.
It is also influenced by the different faith groups on campus that shape the traditions and culture found on campus.
Published Oct. 2, 2013