I’m taking an interfaith conflict resolution course at my seminary. Tonight, the professor briefly touched on the difficulties experienced by religious people when attempting to solve problems within their own faiths.
During her lecture, a certain student raised her hand to share that in her opinion, one example of internal religious conflict occurred several months ago when Chick-Fil-A’s CEO expressed that he felt the “institution of marriage” should be “protected” by reserving it for heterosexual relationships. She felt the backlash from the public was wrong– and that in our country, religious people who express their opinions on issues of “morality” are often unfairly targeted, unheard or misunderstood.
The professor (whom I actually interpret to be rather liberal) attempted to move on by inviting another student to speak. An older gentleman raised his hand and said that he believes some conflicts require us to “agree to disagree” because that’s the more peaceful thing to do.
Everyone nodded along, but this bothered me. A lot. So I raised my hand.
I explained that in my opinion, there are times when justice requires us to stop “agreeing to disagree”. Inaction and complacency can in themselves become forms of violence. My comments seemed to make the students uncomfortable… After all, the topic of same-sex relationships is one that has been inflammatory in other classroom settings, and is intentionally avoided by the faculty. I think the professors are instructed to stay away from the topic because they scurry like hell to change the subject when it rears its head. The students often avoid it because they’re worried that their comments might cause division.