Love First Promotes Religious Understandings
By: Tim Rosenberger
November 4, 2014
As a student double majoring in English and American Studies, I am not among those one would first peg for participation in the inaugural class of the Berkley Center’s Doyle Undergraduate Fellows Program. Even more surprising is the fact my interests in this program lie almost entirely on practical applications of religious understanding. While most of my academic work up to this point has focused largely on the theoretical, I believe that the coming year will help me gain the skill sets I need to find success in a gravely practical project I am undertaking.
Over the past months, a number of Georgetown students and alumni and I have found LoveFirst, an organization dedicated to preventing faith-based organizations operating in the developing world from complicity in violence against persons based on gender or sexual orientation. LoveFirst will work with faith-based organizations to adopt a statement affirming their opposition to violence against persons based on their gender and/or sexual orientation. It will further work with the US government to identify faith-based organizations that, while receiving funds through partnerships with the government, willfully engage in activities that support such violence.
The unique opportunities provided by Georgetown have made this project spring to life. Our religiously pluralistic student body, full of extremely dedicated believers of various creeds, lent itself to creating an organization that could work with various faith-based groups rather than limiting itself to a single religion. Accompanying our diversity of faiths, our unifying commitment to social justice has allowed for easy recruiting of students interested in a project that would end injustice perpetuated by religious communities. No less important than these spiritual aspects, the academic richness of this community has allowed for pragmatic and concrete plans to emerge for the implementation of programming that will advance the mission of LoveFirst.
Over the next semester and beyond, LoveFirst will undertake efforts to raise awareness of these issues in policy-making spheres and to find faith-based partners who are readily interested in our commitment to nonviolence. While the initial success of this project has been promising, I believe its lasting strength is dependent upon a wealth of research and upon access to some of the great faculty members made available uniquely through the Berkley Center. I anticipate the coming months as a time of great growth and upheaval for LoveFirst and of challenging academic undertakings for me. I can’t wait to see what this coming year has in store, and I look forward to working even more closely with my colleagues and with the dedicated mentors of the Berkley Center.