Talking religion and politics at Thanksgiving


Photo by Coby Berg

by Jessica Wood, Staff Reporter

Religion and politics are two things you aren’t supposed to talk about during Thanksgiving. But that is exactly what Simpson College students did on Nov 19. 

The event was titled “Talking Religion and Politics at Thanksgiving” and almost 100 students attended. It was held as part of the regular Tuesday night event, Food for the Soul. The Simpson College program, Talking about the Two Things You’re Told to Never Talk About (but need to), held the event in hopes that it would help students learn how to navigate conversations about politics and religion with family or friends. 

Students who are apart of the program and Religious Life help do this by performing skits. They then allow the tables of students to talk about what they saw and how it could be done different. There were not facilitators at the tables but there was a set of prompt questions. 

After small group discussions, the students running the event then opened the floor up to large-group conversation. 

“Understand that there are different opinions and views and that’s okay,” said Elliott Meyer, a junior. “Not every conversation you have with someone who has a different opinion has to be hostile.” 

The program, Talking about the Two Things You’re Told to Never Talk About (but need to) is funded by a grant Simpson received from Interfaith Youth Core. 

“This program helps students develop leadership skills in facilitating challenging conversations about religion and politics and strengthens community throughout the college,” said Maeve Callen, a religion professor. “Led by faculty and staff in the most relevant fields in partnership with eight students, this project also emphasizes the relevance of interfaith initiatives for the college’s mission, identity, and purpose.”

The students involved in the program are Amir Suljic, Daniel Estrada, Katie Cardoza, and Triniti Krauss, who are Culver fellows, Franco Caramelino, Jailyn Seabrooks, Lauren Hastie, and Peter Walkwitz, who are members of Interfaith. 

The directors and assistant directors are Maeve Callan and Seth Andersen, Mara Bailey and Kedron Bardwell. 

There will be other events held throughout the school year over these topics in hopes students all across campus can build these skills of leadership. In addition to knowing that they are welcomed and accepted in this community, no matter who they are.