As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, and American society becomes increasingly diverse, we more frequently come into contact with people who have deeply held religious beliefs that differ from our own. Substantive disagreements exist between people of different faiths, as well as between people within the same general faith tradition. How we manage these disagreements will shape the well-being of our local communities and our nation.
On Tuesday, April 29, the Aspen Institute, one of the country’s leading educational and policy studies organizations, will present the panel discussion “Principled Pluralism: The Challenges and Opportunities of America’s Religious Diversity,” on the Wheaton College campus.
Panelists will include InterVarsity Christian Fellowship President Alec Hill, Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray and Wheaton College President Philip G. Ryken. The moderator is Joseph DeMott, project manager of the Aspen Institute’s Justice & Society Program.
The panel will examine the potential benefits and pitfalls of religious diversity and interfaith engagement. The discussion also will showcase evangelical and Roman Catholic perspectives on interfaith engagement, with a focus on higher education.
Alec Hill became president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA in 2001. He holds a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Seattle Pacific University. He has served as dean of Seattle Pacific’s School of Business and Economics, and also taught law and ethics there. Hill is the author of an InterVarsity Press book, Just Business: Christian Ethics in the Marketplace, and also serves on the board of Christianity Today International.
S. Alan Ray has served since 2008 as president of Elmhurst College, where he also holds a joint faculty appointment in the political science and religious studies departments. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a former Roman Catholic seminarian, Ray holds a Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Philip G. Ryken is the eighth president of Wheaton College. A Wheaton alumnus, Ryken earned a master of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and a doctorate in historical theology from the University of Oxford. He joined the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 1995, preaching there until his appointment at Wheaton. He has published more than 30 books, including The Message of Salvation (InterVarsity 2001) and Loving the Way Jesus Loves (Crossway, 2011).
The Principled Pluralism event is an outgrowth of the Justice & Society Program’s Inclusive America Project, launched in 2012 in response to the rise of increasingly polarizing religious rhetoric in the U.S. Co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor David Gergen, the Project produced a report on strategies to increase respect for diverse religious identities in the public sphere and form productive partnerships among people of different faiths in the service of the common good.
Principled Pluralism will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, in Barrows Auditorium on the Wheaton College campus. Barrows Auditorium is located in the east wing of the Billy Graham Center, at 500 College Ave. in Wheaton. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 630.752.5015. To register, visit aspeninstitute.org/wheaton. This event is presented by The Aspen Institute’s Justice & Society Program, Elmhurst College, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Wheaton College.