Indiana State University Newsroom

Guest speakers to discuss religious pluralism at ISU Thursday

November 2, 2010

Several guest speakers will discuss religious pluralism during an event at Indiana State University on Thursday night.

Rev. Julia Kristeller, an ordained Interfaith Minister who has worked with the Muslim community in New York City, and Safaa Zarzour, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, will speak in the Cunningham Memorial Library events area from 6 to 8 p.m. They are expected to talk for between 20 and 30 minutes before fielding questions from the audience.

The event "is indispensably important because it raises people's awareness of not only the existence but the value of other people's beliefs," said Jacques Fuqua, director of International Programs and Services at ISU, "and there is room within the greater global rubric to recognize and appreciate the beliefs of others, in addition to your own."

The event is open to all students, faculty and staff, as well as Terre Haute residents.

Several members of the ISU community initially discussed having an event addressing religious pluralism in the United States in mid-September, when some people started to display anti-Islamic sentiment near the anniversary of Sept. 11 and with the proposed mosque to be built in New York City, said Mary Ferguson, ISU's diversity officer. But the decision was ultimately made to have the event during Diversity Week; Thursday is reserved for events dedicated to religious pluralism.

"We wanted to have some sort of event or forum on campus where we could talk about the place of religious pluralism in American life and on American university campuses," Ferguson said of the plans for an initial event.

From 3:05 to 4:35 p.m. Thursday, the ISU library will host Rev. Kristeller speaking in conjunction with the film "Talking Through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque United a Community." Rev. Kristeller has been involved with the dialogue and debate about the construction of an Islamic community center in New York City.

"Talking Through Walls" is also scheduled to be replayed at 8 p.m., after the discussion. Several other events are planned for earlier in the day as well.

The sponsoring organizations for Thursday's events are Student Government Association; Office of Diversity; International Programs and Services; Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality and Cunningham Memorial Library.

Contact: Jacques Fuqua, director, International Programs and Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-4391 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or