OGDEN -- Many who participated in the book discussion as part of Interfaith Week left the main branch of Weber County Library feeling uplifted and renewed. A panel of religious leaders and about 30 others participated in the annual event as part of the community's interfaith celebration last week.
The book "Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi and a Sheikh" was discussed. It details thoughts about the friendship of three leaders of religious groups and how it changed their lives. Pastor Brian Davis led the discussion along with three other religious leaders of different denominations.
Many agreed that the book didn't fault people themselves for dissensions between faiths, but the religious institutions themselves.
"A lot of this book made me cry ... it is saying religion is not bad. All religions have purity," said Chloe-Ann Alam, one of the panel leaders and a member of the Islamic community.
Kay Healy, one of the participants in the discussion said she has loved being a part of the interfaith movement in the Ogden community and enjoyed many of the points the book made about different religions coming together.
Debbie Davis, who is the wife of Brian Davis, said she came away feeling very enriched after reading the book. She compared working with other religions to building a bridge and meeting in the middle, but still going back to the base of the bridge to get supplies to finish the bridge. She said it was important to meet in the middle with other religions, but to keep going back to your own religions to stay in tune with your beliefs. Many of the others in the discussion liked her analogy and spoke to it.
Brian Davis brought up the point that what often keeps people from affiliating more with other religions is fear of being associated or brought into a religion that is not one's own. Others agreed with that perspective as well.
"Many don't embrace interfaith dialogue because they have a fear of being corrupted," Brian Davis said.
Gage Church, a pastor with United Church of Christ, said that many times people build up walls within their own religions, and people need to ask themselves why they are doing that.
"I wish the walls were more like picket fences," Church said. He doesn't like the fact that things often go the way of who has the loudest voice.
Healy said it's all about definitions, and people have to set definitions that help them to work together.
Carlos Camacho said it comes down to respect. He is third generation LDS and has noticed that regardless of religion, there is so much going on in the world, if everyone could respect one another's beliefs, things would be better.
"If I can learn to understand other people, I can serve my neighbor better, and that is ultimately what I want to do," Camacho said.
Alam admitted that she had been intimidated to come and talk about her religion with people of other religions, but said after the experience she was very glad she had participated.
Brian Davis said these kinds of experiences can open up the community and help everyone get closer to their own beliefs.