Religion is something that is very personal, but in the grand scheme of things, beliefs are something that can bring people together. Faith is relatable and something that is universally understood.
On Jan. 15, 1950, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States first celebrated World Religion Day to promote world unity in religion.
Baha’i scripture states that religion should be the cause of love and agreement, a bond to unify all mankind for it is a message of peace and goodwill to man from God.
World Religion Day is observed the third Sunday of January in the United States and has a rising number of people celebrating the event. Many events take place around the globe including interfaith discussions and conferences.
For those looking to take a closer look at religions around the world, Salt Lake Community College offers new classes this semester.
The new classes at SLCC include World Religions, Religious Cultures of Asia and Introduction to Buddhism. These courses are taught by Professor Wijitha Bandara from the Humanities Department of SLCC.
Bandara was born in Sri Lanka and became a monk at the age of 12. After spending 20 years in the monasteries, he obtained his Doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. After being a visiting scholar at Utah State University, he moved to Salt Lake City.
“It is my hope that students will gain a critical understanding of the many ways peoples and cultures understand their own lives and the world around them,” says Bandara. “Students will learn to view religions other than their own from an objective point of view and in a manner that respects the beliefs and practices of others.”
Throughout teaching his courses, Bandara hopes that students will recognize the welcoming nature of religion.
“I do not wish to limit students to a narrow approach to religion,” says Bandara. “What is important is learning about different religious cultures and how they are shaped and reshaped by human beings throughout history.”