April 01, 2014 | Matt Kucinski

On Thursday, April 24, Calvin College will host “Principled Pluralism: Navigating America’s Increasingly Diverse Religious Landscape,” a panel discussion featuring Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College; Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary; and Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Covenant Fine Arts Center and is co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.

The event is part of the Aspen Institute’s Inclusive America Project (IAP), a non-partisan initiative launched in 2011 that examines religious diversity in five key sectors: youth development organizations, higher education, media, religiously affiliated organizations and government agencies. A panel of leaders from these five sectors, co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and David Gergen, published Principled Pluralism: Report of the Inclusive America Project in June 2013.

Putting words into action

Joseph DeMott, who serves as project manager of the Inclusive America Project, said that the publication of the report marked the beginning of IAP’s second phase, which focuses on disseminating the report and pursuing action steps.

“Our society is becoming increasingly diverse, and our world is becoming increasingly interconnected. As a result, members of different religions interact with one another more than ever before,” said DeMott, who will moderate the discussion at Calvin. “I think now is an important time for people of faith to reflect on how to build respectful, productive relationships across religious and denominational lines without diluting their own core beliefs.”

Providing different perspectives

The panelists bring diverse professional backgrounds to the discussion. Le Roy is a scholar of political science with several years of experience in Christian higher education administration; Medenblik is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and a leader in the CRC’s church planting efforts; and Hill is a lawyer who has spent his career serving Christian non-profit organizations, including World Vision and InterVarsity. The trio will discuss topics such as the state of religious pluralism on college campuses, opportunities for interdenominational and interfaith cooperation, and how to respond to the growing cultural rift between the devoutly religious and avowedly non-religious.

“I hope that attendees will leave this event with a better understanding of what religious pluralism from a Christian Reformed perspective can look like, and with ideas about how our nation’s religious diversity can be harnessed as a source of strength, rather than something divisive,” said DeMott.

To register for the event, which is free and open to the public, visit http://www.aspeninstitute.org/calvin

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