I attended a discussion panel hosted by the Religious Studies Association this past Wednesday. It was a refreshing reminder to me of how different religions can bring peace, meaning, and happiness into people’s lives. On the panel were Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, and Muslim students. All of them promoted interfaith discourse and exploration. All of them exhibited values of kindness, compassion, faith in both God and humanity, and tolerance. They talked about how religion overlaps with culture, relationships, and politics, and how it doesn’t. They made me realize how incredibly hard it must be to keep your religious beliefs in a society where you are the minority. Some of the students talked about having knee-jerk reactions to Christians for a while, but settling down and finding a deeper understanding and peace. The panel was supposed to be about how religious views can affect views on social justice, but what stuck with me was how fundamental religion can be to a person’s identity. Religion can provide a sense of belonging and community, but not being a part of the dominant religion within a community can lead to feelings of ostracization. For that reason, I am glad that OU is a fairly diverse place with different student organizations for different religions.