By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer
By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer
On Nov. 3 Riverside City College once again hosted a heated open discussion on religion on the front steps of the Martin Luther King Jr. High Tech Center.
The RCC Christian club, The Well held an open question and answer forum in which they addressed any questions that any member of the student body may have.
The panel consisted of Lenny Esposito, the president of Come Reason Ministries, and from Harvest Christian Fellowship Daniel Eichelberger, Jason Powell and Josh Thompson.
Students were allowed to approach the microphone and ask one question.
The discussion frequently became heated when various taboo subjects emerged such as gay marriage, the “right religion” and war.
RCC students seemed to openly welcome the opportunity as there was always a line to ask a question.
Often enough many students who approached the microphone ended up asking more than one question and actively engaged in lengthy discussions.
For the two hours the Q & A lasted, there was always a crowd of students witnessing the exchange, developing their own opinions on the issue and reflecting upon what was being said.
The speakers made it clear that they did not want to force their beliefs upon the public, but were merely there to answer any questions that may have arisen.
“We can discuss this openly and civilly,” Esposito said. “The goal here isn’t to have people like us or dislike us. The goal is to make people start thinking about the issue.”
Although tempers flared between the students and the panel, they always took a step back to calm down and thank each other for openly participating in this forum.
RCC student trustee Nick Bygon even stepped up to the microphone to inquire about the lack of women on the panel. Although the panel and Bygon never met eye to eye, both parties acknowledged and thanked each other for actively participating.
“I appreciate you guys answering questions, I think it is important to essentially hear our position and voice your own. I appreciate that,” Bygon said.
RCC student Brian McFadden had the lengthiest and most heated of these discussions over the question, “If you assume God is omniscient and omnipotent, which is all knowing and all powerful, how can you justify joining a religion that claims that God condemns people for eternity, makes them suffer for eternity, for actions that they did even though God knew prior to creation who would be condemned and who would go to hell?”
After the 20 minute exchange both parties cooled off and thanked each other for such a lively discussion.
“Honestly, I respect you guys. I’m thankful that you came. It’s better to talk about this stuff, than to not talk about it. I appreciate it. I’m sorry, I am hotheaded,” McFadden said.
Several students both Christian and non-Christian appreciated the opportunity to conduct an open forum.
“This was handled very civilly, everybody was kind and nice, and even though there were disputes everyone was at least able to come to common ground to agree to disagree,” said RCC student Marnae Hayes.
“I think that free inquiry is important. You should be able to question anything including traditional beliefs and alternative beliefs. Any time you have this type of forum you will have many individuals with questions,” Esposito said.
“I’m glad to see the students are engaged with questions that are good and relevant. Young people are thinking; they want answers. These are called the big questions of life for a reason,” Esposito said. “Our goal is to say here that we have a belief, we have reasons for that belief and we want you to weigh in on it.”