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Leap of Faith: Chapel Will Foster Dialogue, Provide Space for Religious Students

Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values.                    Public Information

Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values. Public Information

As the chapel continues to be built, it began to dominate a lot of my recent conversations. Most of the people I talked to were basically against the chapel for different reasons.

For some it removed possible parking spaces. For others, it wouldn’t be useful as there are many places of worship within walking distance of campus. Also, some feel the money is being “wasted” in this project when it could be invested in something else (even though the school had no choice in how the money was used). The University of Tampa is not a religious school, many mention.

The idea of “God at school” has been rejected by some and seems to affront most. However, is religion such a bad thing?

Religion is usually related to a source of conflict, and a main reason why major historical tragedies have happened from the Crusades to 9/11.

However, if we take a deeper look into those different events, religion appears only as the superficial reason. Religion is, perhaps, the easiest way to justify any kind of behavior. Even so, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the justification is true.

Over the last hundred years, religion has evolved from being a social matter into a personal matter.

You don’t believe for the sake of a community but for your spiritual well being.

We could go further and say that today there isn’t so much a distinction between people of different religions, but between those who believe in God and those who don’t.

I see myself in the first group. Therefore, I consider that it’s good for UT to have a chapel so that people from different beliefs can go and pray.

I don’t understand why it is such a big deal to have a religious space at the university.

As far as I know, no one is going to be forced to go; it’s going to be visited by those who want to, and the ones who don’t can refrain from using it.

I live in a single on campus, so I pray in my room. During the first semester of freshman year I was commuting, and I really wished there had been a place where I could have prayed between my classes.

In the second semester I had roommates, which made me uncomfortable while I prayed.

Even if I have my own space to pray, the chapel ought to be an opportunity to interact with people from different religions.

If the problem is parking spaces, UT has already purchased nearby ground, which will be developed into additional spaces.

Even though I am conscious of how parking at UT is a real pain, I won’t sacrifice something as important as religion for parking spaces, even if sometimes it means walking from West Parking Garage to Urso Hall.

If it comes to “wasting” money, there are many other things that the university is giving money to and seems to be a complete waste, the Health Center, for instance.

The chapel introduces religion to the campus without making UT a denominational or religious school. It provides the freedom to religious students to go and pray whenever they feel like doing so. This is a way of coexistence.

For many students, religion is a very important part of their lives. There is no reason why we should let God outside of our daily routines of life if we don’t feel like doing so.

A chapel will not force anyone to believe in anything; rather it gives those students an opportunity and place where they can pray and students interested in different religions to satisfy their curiosity. This is only going to benefit students.

When you get out of the university, you don’t only need a degree, but also the capability to understand other points of view, cultures and, of course, religions. Students who are willing to acknowledge other religions would certainly be more useful for society than those who only have a degree.

Hopefully, the chapel won’t become a way to proselytize, but a way to understand each other.

Carolina Medelin can be reached at colaya@ut.edu.

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