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Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims came together for a conference to bridge their differences and discuss ways to foster unity among one another.

The Christian-Muslim Dialogue Group hosted "Who Is My Neighbor? Different Faiths - One Community" in Trinity's dining hall Saturday, October 25. The event attracted more than 150 people and featured one speaker from each religious faith.

"The only way for us to respect each other is to get to know each other," said Rev. Roger Nelson, pastor of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Illinois. "It's hard work getting to know each other, but the results are well worth the hard work."

All three speakers described traits, habits, and perceptions that were specific to their religions. They also suggested strategies and methods in which people of different beliefs can learn to live with one another.

"Catholics tend to be parochial," said Father Edward Cronin, pastor of St. Alexander Catholic Church in Palos Heights. "We have to get out of our comfort zones more often and into someone else's. Sometimes we need to take the initiative and open ourselves to learning about other people."

"Muslims in America want understanding, and we don't want all of us to be categorized as evil because of the actions of a few," said Dr. Assad Busool, chairman of the department of Arabic studies at the American Islamic College in Chicago. "We did not come to this country to destroy it. We want people to understand us individually so we can build trust with each other."

After a question-and-answer period, the attendants were seated with members of different faiths to encourage more discussion during lunch. Dr. Michael Vander Weele, professor of English at Trinity and a member of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue Group, was pleased with the turnout.

"I'm glad to see so many people who are concerned with religious and cultural acceptance," he said. "We have to continue these kinds of conversations and apply some of the ideas we talk about. That's a responsibility we all share."

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