A place for people of faith and no-faith to explore shared values, build respect and mutually inspiring relationships, and pursue common action for the common good

A message from Chaplain H Scott Matheney

In Better Together, Elmhurst College, Faith, Interfaith, Social Justice on March 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

This is an open letter from our chaplain that is appearing in several forms to our campus community in the coming days. You can email Rev. Matheney at hscottm[at]elmhurst[dot]edu.

Today at Spiritual Life Council, we discussed similar issues as Scott references in this post (with regard to Islamophobia and religiously-based hate). Next week we will be writing letters to the politicians involved in the protest, as well as in support of several select Muslim communities. This is the first of several actions around these issues, as part of a national movement spurred by the urgency brought forward by the Orange County protests (as mentioned in my last post)

To our Elmhurst College community,

Today, March 10th, our House of Representatives in Wash. D.C. will open hearing on home land security,  home-grown terrorist activity and Islam.

The implications for this review are far-reaching and have attracted international media coverage. As a college community rooted deeply in core values that inform our life as an academic institution, I raise this moment as one that needs your attention intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. We are not naive to the climate of fear and hate that permeates our society coupled with so much misinformation. This college has committed itself to a different course of actions then stigmatizing a particular people or religion, and so, as these hearing shall commence this day, we are each responsible to listen and speak with a degree of civility born of wisdom, not ignorance. I am especially concerned for my Muslim brothers and sisters who shall bear this scrutiny. There will be many big questions asked of all of us in these hearings and it is imperative that this college of learners and scholars find moments to reflect with the critical rigor that demands our best now. Indeed, the times that these hearings begin serve as a spring board for our critical reflections and sustained actions.

Students can find no better forum to do this then the weekly 5pm meetings of the Spiritual Life Council to grapple with these important questions of faith and life. The 3 lectures that will grace our campus next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings highlight some of the best and the brightest alumnus of this college as they seek to explore the nature of evil and positive models of an active vibrant faith manifesting itself in the questions of social justice. The college will also have the great pleasure to sit with the President of the World Council of Churches for North America. I would also commend to your thoughtful attention an excellent op-ed editorial in the March 9, 2011 New York Times by Akbar Ahmed of American University. Professor Ahmed has written a timely and most welcomed piece (page 25).

There are of course many differences of opinion on our campus regarding these hearings. It will be my hope and our collective active engagement that we can assist our community in addressing the many dynamics and difficulties that shall be lifted up. It is to that active engagement that I call this campus community to join. We have students leading a national movement titled “Better Together” and “What If” campaign that allows our entire community to join. Our responses to these US House hearings, their outcomes, and how we build our campus and society calls each of us now in a new and commanding manner. I look forward to your responses and working together to build our collective life together for Elmhurst College.

As always, I am, faithfully yours,

H. Scott Matheney +




Scott has served as Chaplain at Elmhurst College since 1997. He arrived at the College with a distinguished background, having served years as Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Chaplain at Columbia University in New York City.

Scott instituted the Religious Lecture Series at Elmhurst, exploring different faith traditions (the Bernardin Lecture, al-Ghazali Lecture, and Heschel Lecture) while always encouraging students to expand their intellectual horizons. A graduate of Whitworth College and Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. Matheney also has extensive international experience as a visiting scholar and teacher.

%d bloggers like this: