This past Thursday, Oct. 29, marked the first ever Minority Religion Conference at Sam Houston State University. Sponsored and organized be the Sam Houston Atheist Agonistic Humanist and Freethinker Association student group the event took place from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. with presentations from minority groups on campus, afterwards a reception was held at the Lowman Student Center for one-on- one interaction between audience members and speakers.
The event began with a Charlotte Meadows of the United States Census providing a public service message explaining the importance and procedures of the upcoming 2010 census.
Hosted by Coach Jessie Parker, the event started with an introduction by the Counseling Centers Dr. Bernice Strauss.
A member of a minority religion herself, Dr. Strauss praised the open atmosphere and true scholarship of the 70 to 80 students who took their evening to attend this enlightening event.
During the event presenters. who are active in the religions they represented, took 10 minutes each to speak about their beliefs and discuss some common misconceptions.
During this time, Google Voice was used to allow participants to text message in questions to be answered during the question and answer period. In attendance was John Rudolf, President of the Latter Day Saints Student Services to speak about LDS.
Andrea Pikas of the Diamond Way Buddhist Student group presented a new and welcome student organizations on campus.
Founder and president of the UU Bearkats, James Moore, presented Universal Unitarianism.
An unexpected, yet much appreciated appearance by self described “white man in a black religion” James Scott, enlightened the audience on the Rastafarian Movement, and what many felt may have been the most misunderstood and therefore most educational presentation.
The final presentation was by Dr. Brian Louden founder of SHAAHFTA and president for two years, he now serves as vice president. His presentation summarized all four groups represented during the event.
Questions that had been submitted via the text message system were fielded to the panel of presenters.
A spectrum of questions ranged from friendly inquisitiveness to probing detail. The panel answered as many as time permitted.
The concluding question to all members, “What led you to believe what you believe” finished the night. Any questions that were not answered were forwarded to the e-mails of the presenters.
Dr. Strauss thanked everyone for coming. Presenters were given gift bags in thanks and SHAAHFTA member Brittany Wilbert, the key organizer for the event, received flowers in thanks.
The conference moved to the reception where the audience was able to sit and enjoy snacks with presenters for one-on-one discussion and questions.
The event is a first at Sam Houston, and with so many in attendance it bodes well, for years to come. The contribution to academia of events such as this is unrivaled, truly if anywhere, a university is the place for discussion such as this.