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New School Trains in Different Religions

This is the VOA Special English Education Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish Claremont Lincoln University near Los Angeles is a new graduate school for religious education. It hopes to change the way religious leaders in the United States are educated. The school will train Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy together. It offers master's degree programs in interreligious studies and Muslim leadership. Administrators think this is the first "interreligious university" of its kind. Three institutions founded Claremont Lincoln. One is the Claremont School of Theology, where the university is located. The other founders are the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and the Islamic Center of Southern California. Students from one institution may take courses at the others. The Islamic school is just beginning its programs. The founders hope to begin training imams sometime next year. David Lincoln is chairman of the board of Claremont Lincoln. He and his wife, Joan, donated fifty million dollars to the university. He says "In a lot of places now, [religions] fight each other, and if the religions could encourage solutions to the problems, then the problems would be solved and we'd all be better off."Reverend Jerry Campbell, president of the Claremont School of Theology, says teaching religion this way will strengthen society. "If we can't love our neighbors who are not like us, if we can't love them being who they are, how can our country hang together?" Jihad Turk is director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California. He says this way of educating religious leaders will show that in the United States, "there is great support from private institutions, from the public at large and by the government, as well, that recognizes that Islam and Muslims are on the side of peace."Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa's ambassador to the United States, spoke at the university. He says interfaith cooperation is a way to balance extremism. "Anyone can step into the breach and claim to be speaking for God, and unless the middle ground is able to establish what is God's purpose, we will cede more and more ground to the fundamentalists."Reverend Campbell says he hopes to bring more religions to Claremont Lincoln, including the Bahai faith. An International School of Jain Studies will offer short-term exchange programs and seminars on Jainism, a religion from India. Reverend Campbell says the goal is to unite people to promote religion as a source of healing, compassion and peace.For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 22Sep2011)
Length: 04:00

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