Principled Pluralism: The Challenges and Opportunities of America’s Religious Diversity

July 18, 2014 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

On April 29, 2014, Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray participated in a panel discussion about religious diversity and interfaith engagement.

The panel, Principled Pluralism: The Challenges and Opportunities of America’s Religious Diversity, was presented by the Aspen Institute, one of the country’s leading educational and policy studies organizations.

In addition to President Ray, panelists included InterVarsity Christian Fellowship President Alec Hill and Wheaton College President Philip G. Ryken. The moderator was Joseph DeMott, project manager of the Aspen Institute’s Justice & Society Program.

Speaking to an attentive audience in Barrows Auditorium on the Wheaton College campus, the panelists examined the potential benefits and pitfalls of religious diversity and interfaith engagement. The discussion also showcased evangelical and Roman Catholic perspectives on interfaith engagement, with a focus on higher education.

About the panelists:
Alec Hill became president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA in 2001. He holds a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Seattle Pacific University. He has served as dean of Seattle Pacific’s School of Business and Economics, and also taught law and ethics there. Hill is the author of an InterVarsity Press book, Just Business: Christian Ethics in the Marketplace, and also serves on the board of Christianity Today International.

  1. Alan Ray has served since 2008 as president of Elmhurst College, where he also holds a joint faculty appointment in the political science and religious studies departments. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a former Roman Catholic seminarian, Ray holds a Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Philip G. Ryken is the eighth president of Wheaton College. A Wheaton alumnus, Ryken earned a master of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and a doctorate in historical theology from the University of Oxford. He joined the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 1995, preaching there until his appointment at Wheaton. He has published more than 30 books, including The Message of Salvation (InterVarsity, 2001) and Loving the Way Jesus Loves (Crossway, 2011).

Principled Pluralism was presented by The Aspen Institute’s Justice & Society Program, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Wheaton College and Elmhurst College.

The Principled Pluralism event is an outgrowth of the Justice & Society Program’s Inclusive America Project, launched in 2012 in response to the rise of increasingly polarizing religious rhetoric in the U.S. Co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor David Gergen, the Inclusive America Project produced a report on strategies to increase respect for diverse religious identities in the public sphere and form productive partnerships among people of different faiths in the service of the common good.

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