Jesuit education

Building a Culture of Religious Freedom

By: Kevin D. Sullivan

At the heart of the Catholic faith, and indeed even in its very name “Catholic,” is a recognition and appreciation for the universality of Catholicism. The beliefs, doctrines, and way of life that flow from Catholicism have a specific nature, but are applicable in an incredibly diverse number of ways. Learning this reality, especially through the lens of the Ignatian tradition, showed me the importance of religious freedom not only to my alma mater, Georgetown University, but to all universities. In many ways, I have seen the Georgetown community express why religious freedom is not just about surface-level tolerance, but about benefiting from an environment where faith is welcome in the public square. From this perspective, it is not just important that universities protect religious freedom in the legal sense, but that they also seek to encourage a culture of religious freedom.

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Religious Freedom at a Jesuit University: A Muslim Student's Perspective

By: Aamir Hussain

When I was looking at colleges during my senior year in high school, I found myself especially attracted to Georgetown because the university celebrated religion and its Catholic-Jesuit identity as a central facet of campus life. This was in stark contrast to secular and public universities that had religious life as a fringe activity. As I learned more about Georgetown, I was intrigued that the university provided chaplaincy support to five faith traditions, and was the first college in the nation to hire a full-time imam. In fact, Imam Yahya Hendi was hired in 1999, before the 9/11 attacks and well before Islam came to the forefront of religious freedom discussions in the United States; thus, as a devout Muslim, I was happy to attend a university that was “ahead of the curve” when it came to discussions about religion. 

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