Belonging and Inclusion
BYU Religious Education Statement on Belonging and Inclusion
The Lord invites “all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female . . . and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33, emphasis added). Discriminatory expressions assume superiority and are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We affirm our commitment to stand against all such expressions, and we affirm our commitment, in all of our endeavors, to follow the example of the Savior in being loving and inclusive, especially to the marginalized. When students, staff, and faculty extend common courtesy, empathy, and understanding, we manifest our love for Christ and for all God’s children.
Answering the call to “lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice” (see President Nelson’s address), Religious Education seeks to create a culture in which:
- “All relationships reflect devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of our neighbor" (BYU Mission Statement);
- We value and embrace the variety of individual characteristics, life experiences and circumstances, perspectives, talents, and gifts of each member of the community and the richness and strength they bring to our community (1 Corinthians 12:12–27);
- Our interactions create and support an environment of belonging (Ephesians 2:19); and
- The full realization of each student’s divine potential is our central focus (BYU Mission Statement). (See BYU’s Statement on Belonging).
President Russell M. Nelson’s message in “Let God Prevail,” General Conference, October 2020
Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33).
I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments and not the color of your skin.
I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.
Religious Education’s Current Efforts and Initiatives
(what we are doing)
- Providing training and resources related to inclusive pedagogical practices for incoming and current faculty
- Updating policies relating to rank and status advancement, hiring practices, teaching evaluation, and faculty merit pay to reflect our commitment to the ideals stated in the “Religious Education Statement on Belonging and Inclusion”
- Conducting formal reviews of several Religious Education courses
- Soliciting student feedback regarding how Religious Education professors might create a more inclusive academic environment
- Updating artwork in the Joseph Smith Building to better reflect our commitment to belonging and inclusion
Looking to the Future in Religious Education
(what we aspire to do)
- Continue our current efforts and initiatives and establish metrics for determining where improvement is needed
- Take a more active role in the recruitment, mentoring, and support of faculty from underrepresented groups
- Better collaborate with faculty members and students of all backgrounds, other campus and Church entities, and BYU administration in our efforts and initiatives
- Recruit guest speakers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds
- Be proactive in mentoring and supporting minority students
Banner image attribution: Swanson, John August. Loaves and Fishes, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56553 [retrieved February 17, 2022]. Original source: www.JohnAugustSwanson.com - copyright 2003 by John August Swanson.