Although Chapman has roots with Christian churches, it has evolved since the university’s founding more than 150 years ago, with the addition of the Fish Interfaith Center and the Wallace All Faiths Chapel in 2004.
While 44 percent of Chapman students consider themselves Christian, the student population practices a variety of faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
Having many religions on campus can provide diversity in thought. But religion doesn’t have to be something people agree on, and at Chapman, it’s easy to expose yourself to different religious backgrounds.
College is a time when people find themselves, and religion and spirituality can help students form their identities as they enter adulthood. Religion can provide a community in college, and even if students don’t become religious, religion or spirituality often provides values, morals, a support system and structure that can carry into the rest of adulthood.
Spirituality is essential to students’ lives, according to Spirituality in Higher Education, a seven-year national study through UCLA.
“Assisting students’ spiritual growth will help create a new generation who are more caring, more globally aware, and more committed to social justice than previous generations,” according to the study.
Spirituality can be defined as finding peace and answers to the “big” questions, such as the meaning of life or a higher power, and some people choose to go through this journey using organized religion, according to the Fish Interfaith Center.
Chapman makes it easy to explore different religions and your own spirituality with resources provided by the Fish Interfaith Center and the Cross-Cultural Center. Every Saturday and Sunday, the Cross-Cultural
Center hosts a prayer room from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. because the Fish Interfaith Center is closed on weekends. Throughout the week, the Fish Interfaith Center offers services for different religions, including an open labyrinth walk, meditation sessions, mass and Shabbat. There are 19 religious and spiritual student groups on campus, from the Chapman Skeptics to the Sikh Student Association.
While exploring new religions, or those that are different from your own, there may be ideas with which you disagree. It shouldn’t be important to convince the people around you to agree – religion is a personalized experience. Differences in religion should be celebrated, rather than looked at as negative or dividing.
There are many differences among religions that can lead to conflict, like how we dress, or the food we should eat. But there are also common themes that encourage people to do good – religion can lead people to rediscovering their internal moral compasses.
Many religions, like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam, have forms of nonviolence and peace as part of their traditions, and have been pillars for many nonviolent movements, according to a study by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
It can be easy to disregard other people’s religious beliefs if you don’t share their beliefs, or even write off other religions as “wrong.” Instead, try taking some time to explore the Fish Interfaith Center’s resources and open yourself up to other beliefs. You may find it helps you appreciate other religions as well as your own. By taking this time at Chapman to get in touch with your own spirituality and learn about other beliefs, you may find it leads to a more peaceful, well-balanced life.