Written by Anthony Moujaes
To promote freedom of religion, equality and understanding, First Congregational UCC in Akron, Ohio, will host an interfaith discussion with the Akron Area Interfaith Council on Wednesday to explore the intersections of religion and politics in an event titled 'How Does God Want You to Vote?'
"We're trying to promote understanding, not just tolerance," First Congregational UCC senior pastor, the Rev. Jay Marshall Groat said. "Tolerance is good, but understanding is better."
First Congregational will host the public forum Wednesday, Oct. 24, to explore how religion mixes with politics as the 2012 election approaches. Groat said he expects a large turnout; more than 250 people have registered online to attend, and he thinks more will show.
The AAIC tries to host two events each year that promote interfaith equality, freedom of religion, and understanding, Groat said. The idea for a discussion on political and religious crossroads came together when the council collaborated on ideas for events. "This [event on religion and politics] seemed like a natural for the political cycle," Groat explained.
The AAIC has clergy and laypersons from Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, Baha'i, Unitarian and Christian communities. The council formed in the early 1980s, and First Congregational has been an active participant since.
"The goal of the event is just to get people together, and talk about some of these points," Groat said.
The conversation will revolve around the broad question of where God intersects with each individual's American politics. It's a question with several answers, but the AAIC will rely on one of the leading voices in religion and politics to steer the dialogue. Dr. John Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron is the featured speaker for the 90-minute program, and there is a panel discussion with multi-faith participants.
To register online, visit www.akronareainterfaithcouncil.org/Forum_Registration. For more information on the event, contact Susan Davis at 330-329-5132.