Festival of Faiths examines religion as something that can divide and heal – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville


Systemic racism and healing from the trauma of oppression are at the center of the 25th edition of Feast of beliefs, which kicks off in Louisville on Thursday and runs through Saturday.

The Center for Interfaith Relations is hosting the event, which this year is titled “Sacred Change: Essential Conversations About Faith and Race”. It is a response to the police murder of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black emergency technician, and the protests in the city after her death.

“I think Breonna Taylor’s situation was a microcosm of bigger issues,” said Lewis Brogdon, who heads the Institute of Black Church Studies at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and go present during the festival.

“We are really in a period of calculation,” he continued. “So one of the ways you make change is to challenge the way people think, to help them understand the story. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Brogdon said the festival will dedicate the next few years to tackling systemic racism.

“We know you can’t have a one-on-one conversation and change anything, but we want to educate, educate, educate, agitate, advocate, so that we achieve structural change,” he said.

The 2021 festival lineup includes theologians, speakers and artists discussing topics such as racial calculus in the United States and Louisville, intersectionality and a session titled “Black Trauma, Pain and Nihilism”.

Below are excerpts from Brogdon’s conversation with WFPL News, edited for length and clarity.

On the interaction or relationship between religion and race:

“Racism is really the product of religion, especially Christianity, in America. He played a vital role, whether use scriptures to justify why black people are enslaved, cursed, etc.. There have been churches that have turned a blind eye to slavery, lynching – even today, mass incarceration, some of the problems we have with the police. So you have churches that are promoting, but you have a lot of churches, institutions, and religious entities that are formed to look away. It is therefore our responsibility to make our own history our own. But we don’t want to keep repeating these things either.

By recognizing the ways that religion and faith have divided people, while looking for ways that spirituality can heal:

“What we do is we create a space… to speak the truth, a space to be honest about the pain, the trauma, the nihilism… We are not going to back down from these difficult conversations. But the tradition of faith has also been a great asset, whether it is resistance, whether it is healing, whether it is demands for justice, which helps us move forward towards a semblance of reconciliation. We are going to do these two things.

On how spirituality can be a healing tool:

“On the one hand, it can actually be a tool to correct when religion is bad… So the irony of being part of the black Christian tradition is that some people in the black community believe that you have actually betrayed black people. ; you have adopted the religion of your oppressors. Our response is, “No, we haven’t made white Christianity our own, that in fact the reason there is a black church today is because of something called the slave religion.” Enslaved Africans met God in the bushes on their own terms and found God to be a source of hope, which instilled in them a sense of belonging, that they were more than just slaves, that they were children of God, and that they could work towards something better… Religion is more than just praying and sing songs, and silent meditation and think about God. It’s really about thinking about how God wants us to organize the world … So if we care about God, we are also going to care about our neighbors.

The Festival of Faiths takes place in Louisville from November 18 to 20, 2021. You can consult the full program here. Some of the programming will be broadcast online.


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