By Kelsey Rettke
On Tuesday, November 14th, a large crowd gathered in the Richardson Auditorium at 7 p.m. to watch the screening debut of Beloit College graduate Jesse Lopez-Cepero’s “Secularism and Religion at Beloit.” The documentary, as part of his honors term project, looks deeply into the issues that Beloit presents with Secularism and Religion. The point of the documentary was to show the importance of being able to question both sides and talk openly about sensitive issues, as Cepero states.
The film consisted of several point of views ranging from students to alumni to professors and faculty. Filled with questions of morality and “crossing the lines,” the documentary discusses ways in which secularity and religion are brought up within the classroom as well as in casual settings. Also filled with actual personal experiences by both students and faculty, the film begins with a special monologue by Cepero himself, narrating his personal experience with Secularism when he first arrived.
Following the showing, Cepero invited viewers to stay for a short discussion on the film and the issues it brought up. The discussion, which began quietly and timidly, quickly turned into an energetic—and peaceful, thoughtful—conversation about ways in which the college community can be trained to hold discussions like these without crossing lines and hurting feelings. Faculty offered suggestions, and students told personal stories and shared experiences.
As a liberal arts school, it was discussed that the importance of being able to have these conversations is one that needs to be addressed. The documentary suggested that Secularism and Religion at Beloit can oftentimes lead to assumptions and misguided opinions which can quickly turn ugly and offend. But the importance of being able to coexist within the community of the college is vital our own ability to be able to understand and respect both sides. As Cepero’s well-made film urges, deep conversations should be happening where both Secularism and Religion can harmonize and be out in the open.