To support the college’s mission of “bringing light to the world,” the mission of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life is to help individuals and our community examine, develop and live their beliefs, values and convictions.
Recognizing that the college years are a crucial formative period in the life of an adult, staff members of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life support students in their religious, spiritual and secular exploration and practice. That support is twofold.
First of all, we assure that students have access to the religious and spiritual services and practices of their choosing. If these are not available on campus, then we will make every reasonable effort to assist students in finding community resources that meet their needs. Our 18 advisors and affiliates represent a range of religious and spiritual traditions, including: Buddhist, Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Humanist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Taoist (Tai Chi). Advisors are available for individual counsel and advice. In addition to the religious and spiritual traditions represented at the College, there is a broad array of religious and spiritual organizations in the greater Five College community.
Secondly, in concert with the mission of Amherst College as an educational institution, we support multifaith collaboration and engagement. We see a special responsibility to help students to develop personal worldviews that incorporate their values, beliefs and convictions with social, moral and ethical responsibilities. As we seek to equip students to be global citizens, we recognize that a significant part of their training includes religious literacy, i.e. knowledge of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions and viewpoints not their own. We want to complement the valuable courses offered through the Religion Department by providing opportunities for meaningful interaction with people of differing beliefs and values in a variety of settings. These include inter-religious dialogue, community engagement, the study of sacred texts, multifaith panels and services, and other interactions.
Multifaith engagement through the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life is guided by three principles: it is Respectful toward the beliefs of others, Authentic to one’s own tradition, and Meaningful in nature. We use the acronym RAM. This means that we listen to others and value their opinions, even when we may disagree. We are committed to being honest about our own beliefs even when these may be in the minority.