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Freedom to speak religiously

September 12, 2010

By Holly Meyer, Staff Writer

J.O.I.S.T., a new religious philosophy club at Young Harris College has high hopes for encouraging religious curiosity and open-minded thinking among YHC students and faculty.

The goal of the club is to provide a safe place for students to discuss their personal religious beliefs and ask questions about the religious practices of others without feeling the insecurity of being judged.

The name J.O.I.S.T. stands for Junction for Open Inquiry for Seekers and Thinkers and has quite a powerful meaning for the facilitators of J.O.I.S.T. Advisors for the group include, Rev. Dr.Tim Moore, campus minister, Dr. Nathan Dickman, world religions professor, and Rob Cambell, director for the Bonner leaders.

Each of the advisors expressed a sincere desire to help the diverse student body of YHC find, as Moore describes,  “common ground,” something that ties all students of different factions, beliefs and religions together much like a literal floor joist. Moore was encouraged to find that ‘common ground’ with the help of Dr. Dickman, who arrived at YHC this year as a new professor of religion.

“We want to promote some intellectual and personal exploration of faith,” said Moore.

Both Moore and Dickman were able to recognize that YHC has yet to offer a place for the kind of exploration and conversation for inter-religious understanding. Along with students, they want to offer this interaction and discussion to faculty as well.

Eventually, Moore, Campbell and Dickman want the club members themselves to take over and direct the conversation topics as the group becomes more comfortable discussing these themes on their own.

J.O.I.S.T. will have  a mix between movies and discussions.  Discussions will be lead off of philosophies and practices of religions such as, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions that are fairly un-heard of like, Sikhism, Neo-Pagan and Scientology.

After two meetings, J.O.I.S.T decided to move their meeting location. Previous meetings were held in the Center for Appalachian Studies, but due to the sudden growth in members, they are currently looking for a new place to hold meetings.

“The reason for doing it in the Center for Appalachian Studies was because we don’t want it to feel like a classroom.” said Dickman.

The goal is to make the club as open and comfortable as possible for anybody to be able to talk about what ever topic they want.

J.O.I.S.T. encourages anyone interested in becoming a club member to find them on their Facebook page. The club meets on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m., and they will be posting their new location on the J.O.I.S.T. Facebook page sometime this week.

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