California’s latest trend: “Speedfaithing”

From the Los Angeles Times: 

You have 10 minutes to sell someone on Catholicism, no more than that to distill the teachings of the Koran or the foundations of Mormonism.

It’s speed-dating for religion, and in a burst of faith-driven curiosity, dozens of students at UC Irvine raced from room to room Wednesday to listen to religious students (and two atheists) break down the core tenets of their belief system while on the clock.

“Is it required to wear wraps on your head?”

“What exactly do you do on a mission?”

“Do you go to an atheist church?”

Before students began faith shopping, organizers offered a little advice: Don’t see it as an opportunity for debate. Just listen. And keep it short.

“You obviously can’t learn everything about a religion in 10 minutes and that’s not the point,” said Karina Hamilton, director of the Dalai Lama Scholars Program at UC Irvine.

Speedfaithing was developed by Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes religious tolerance, as a way to help young people interact with members of diverse faiths. Since it began in 2005, similar events have been held at colleges across the country.

In Irvine, organizers planned the midday event in advance of a visit next week by Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama‘s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“In Orange County we have tremendous diversity,” said Raid Faraj, diversity educator for the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. “We have members of almost every major religious faith you can think of…. This is an opportunity to create a safe environment for people to come together and ask questions.”

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