Mercer to Host Discussion Series on ‘Muslims in America’


MACON – Mercer University will host a series of moderated discussions this spring on the topic of “Muslims in America.”

The University's Center for Community Engagement, Department of International and Global Studies, and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Office are collaborating on the series, which will be held on the Macon campus.

The four monthly events, which are open to the community, will take place Jan. 21, Feb. 9, March 22 and April 19, in Willingham Auditorium. Each will begin at 6 p.m.

The topic of January's discussion is “Judeo-Christian-Islamic Values: One God!” The panel will feature Rabbi Larry Schlesinger from Temple Beth Israel in Macon, Pastor Scott Dickison of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon and Imam Adam Fofana from the Islamic Center of Middle Georgia in Centerville. Dr. Craig McMahan, university minister and dean of chapel, will moderate.

“The 'Muslims in America' series is intended to inform, educate and enlighten the Middle Georgia community about the central beliefs of the faith, and the common roots the tradition shares with other monotheistic faiths, namely Christianity and Judaism,” said Dr. Eimad Houry, chair of Mercer's Department of International and Global Studies.

The U.S. Census estimates that there are approximately 2.7 million Muslims living in the United States, which is less than 1 percent of the country's total population. Three-quarters of these American Muslims were born outside of the Middle East region, and 35 percent were born in the U.S.

Muslim-Americans are overwhelmingly middle-class, less poor than any other religious group, more educated, well integrated, and over three-quarters hold to core American beliefs such as freedom, democracy and individual responsibility, added Dr. Houry. “The data also show that Americans who know a Muslim or have read about Islam are much more likely to think more favorably of the religion and its followers,” he said.

“The Center for Community Engagement is very pleased to be able to partner with the Department of International and Global Studies and the QEP Office to extend this series to the Middle Georgia community,” said Hannah Vann, coordinator of community engagement at Mercer. “We are being very intentional about including local speakers in the events, where appropriate, so that our students can recognize the wealth of expertise and diversity of religious experiences right here in our community. I'm looking forward to having the citizens of Macon and Middle Georgia participate in the 'Muslims In America' series so that they can get answers to their questions, learn more about Islam and the experiences of Muslims in our community, and see what productive interfaith dialogue can do for promoting understanding and peace.”

Subsequent panels will discuss “Radicalization: The Causes and Spread of Extremism,” “The Muslims are Coming!: The Truth Behind Islamization, Shari'a, and Jihad,” and “Religious Dialogue: The Solutions for Peace.” Panelists and additional details will be released as they are finalized.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.