Religion Seminar Series

Butler University Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs presents:

Faith and Activism

What does it mean to live out one’s faith in the world? What do you deeply care about and what needs to change in this world? How do faith and spiritual practice intersect with the tangible needs for justice and equity? This year, the Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs will explore the relationship between faith and activism. We will learn from scholars and activists of many different religious traditions regarding how their faith compels them to commit their lives to social change.

Fall 2022

Youth Engagement in Interfaith Activism

Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

Today’s religious youth are passionate about activism and social justice. This inaugural session focuses on youth engagement through interfaith activism. We will hear from a former Interfaith Youth Corps activist who identifies as Hindu and Sikh, focusing on the training of youth and empowering them to become interfaith leaders.  Additionally, audiences will hear from a recent Butler alumna and a current Butler student leader, both active in interfaith work on campus and beyond.

Tahil Sharma photoTahil Sharma is an interfaith activist based in Southern California born to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother. Tahil is the Regional Coordinator for North America at the United Religions Initiative, the world’s largest network of grassroots interfaith organizations dedicated to the work of creating cultures of peace, justice, and healing in the world. Tahil also serves as an Interfaith Minister in Residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and as a Board Member for Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus.
Cambria C. Khayat  (Butler 2022) is the Project Coordinator of the Legacy Initiative with the international non-profit Common Purpose. She has worked as a Rebel for Peace with One Solution Global in Chicago and interned for organizations like the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab, Acctionate, and the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability. She has published work with the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame and The Journal on Youth Peace and Security. During her time at Butler University, she triple majored in International Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Economics.
Faith and Activism in Indiana

Tuesday, October 25, 2022, 7:00 PM 

Shelton Auditorium

The work of interfaith activism is thriving in Indiana, with numerous organizations devoted to serving their communities. In this session, we will hear from a panel of local religious activists representing Catholic Charities in Indianapolis, Faith in Indiana, Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, and Muslim Alliance of Indiana. The panelists will discuss their efforts to mobilize and implement change on individual, community, and policy levels.

David Bethuram in a dark suit and blue tieDavid Bethuram serves as Executive Director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, where he is responsible for directing the planning and coordination of human services for six service agencies and parish services in 39 counties in southern and central Indiana. David has worked with Catholic Charities for 25 years; in 2016, he was appointed by Cardinal Joseph Tobin to serve as the executive of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities network. 
Lori Joundi photo in a field of flowersLori Joundi is a board member with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and formerly served as the executive director. A graduate of Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Lori has been able to apply her business, finance, and marketing skills to the mission of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and other passions she holds for various cultural and interfaith initiatives.  In addition to her community involvements, Lori lives with her husband and three children. 
Josh Riddick seatedJosh Riddick is a community organizer and advocate who has served as a pastor, racial equity trainer, and civic dialogue facilitator. He is moved by the intersections of identity, spirituality, justice, and the development of emerging Black leaders and leaders of color. Josh also serves as the organizer of the Black Churches Coalition for Faith in Indiana. 
Ray Wilson headshotRay Wilson Ray Wilson has been chairperson of Indy Green Congregations and Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light and leader of its Using Energy Prudently program and Thriving Faith Communities project.  Ray has led his own congregation, Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis, to reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions by over 50%. He has also been an active volunteer with Solar United Neighbors, Solarize Indiana, and the Sierra Club.

Spring 2023

Faith Sustaining Activism

Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

Activism is difficult and challenging work, requiring a sustained foundation.  For many activists it is their faith that ultimately sustains them and compels them to engage in their work of social change. In this session we will hear from a prominent teacher and therapist about her activism at the intersection of Buddhist, Yoruba, and African American identities.  A Christian homiletics scholar will respond on the role preaching serves in strengthening members within the Black Church community.

Karla Jackson photoKarla Jackson-Brewer is a Senior Tara Mandala Teacher and has been practicing Chöd for 33 years. In 2012 she received the Chöd Empowerment from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. She is a founder of Sine Qua Non: Allies in Healing, an Integrative Therapy Practice in New York City.  She has developed and offered many workshops and courses that focus on the Spirituality and the Divine Feminine, anti-oppression and equity, developing Emotional Intelligence, and personal activism.  She is an adjunct Professor in the Women’s & Gender Studies Department and the Africana Studies Department at Rutgers University.  Karla is also an initiated priest in the West African spiritual system of Ifa.  
headshot of Dr. CV BuggsRev. Dr. Courtney V. Buggs is Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Assistant Director of the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Dr. Buggs’s research interests center on ecumenical practices of sacred proclamation (both inside and outside the pulpit), womanism, and liberative teaching practices. She is ordained in the American Baptist tradition and has served congregations in the United States and abroad, ministering across denominations.  Prior to entering the academy, she was an Air Force Airborne Mission Crew Commander, retiring from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel, after almost 22 years of service.
Faith and Activism through Revolutionary Love

Monday, March 20, 2023, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium

In this concluding session of the year, we will learn about the Revolutionary Love project founded by Valarie Kaur: civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and leader of the Revolutionary Love Project.  With partnerships from the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Grace Unlimited, the NEH/Frederic M. Ayres Fund, the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, Butler Philosophy and Religions Department, Butler DEI Innovation Fund, and the Diversity Program Council, this culminating event of the Seminar will be a unique opportunity to learn from a prominent national leader on the future of faith and activism.

Valerie Kaur portraitValarie Kaur is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and best-selling author of See No Stranger. She has won national acclaim for her work in social justice on issues ranging from hate crimes to digital freedom. Born and raised as a Sikh in California, she emerged on the national scene 20 years ago with her film Divided We Fall, chronicling the experiences of Sikh Americans after 9/11. Her activism focuses on hate crimes, racism and profiling, gun violence, immigration, solitary confinement, LGBTQI+ equality, and Internet freedom. She is the founder of Groundswell Movement, America’s largest multifaith online organizing community. She now leads the Revolutionary Love Project to build just anti-racist communities anchored in the ethic of love. 

Reserve a free Mobile eTicket.

All events are free, open to the public. For more information about the series and virtual attendance, visit

Thank you to our cosponsors and partners: Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Grace Unlimited, NEH/Frederic M. Ayres Fund, Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, Butler Philosophy and Religion Department, and the Diversity Program Council.

 For accessibility information or to request disability-related accommodations, please visit


For many years Butler University has sponsored the Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs. In 2003, the Lilly Endowment Inc. funded the creation of the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University which now sponsors the Butler Seminar. Below is a selection of past seminars in the form of the original brochures that were created for each event.

World Christianity in the New Century, 1999–2000

Religion and Law at Home and Abroad, 2003–2004

Religion and Science, 2004–2005

Religion and Media, 2005–2006

Religion and the Corporation, 2006–2007

Secularism and Religion in Global Perspective, 2007–2008

Darwin, Religion and Society, 2008–2009

Jerusalem: Traditions, Realities and Prospects, 2009–2010

Religion, Peacemaking and Conflict, 2010–2011

Global Christianity in the 21st Century, 2011–2012

Religion and Global Health, 2012–2013

Freedom of Expression and Religion, 2013–2014

Religion and Reconciliation in Global Perspective, 2014–2015

Religion, Race and Culture, 2015–2016

Religion and Trans Lives in a Global Perspective, 2016–2017

Religion, Refugees, and Migration, 2017–2018

Sacred Places: Intersections of Religion and Ecology, 2018–2019


The Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs is a program of the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University, promoting understanding of interfaith and intercultural relations through the discussion of religious issues in global perspectives.

After each event, video will be available on this website.

Previous Years’ Recordings
Growing God’s Family: Evangelical Global Adoption

Domestic and international adoption are deeply shaped by religion, raising questions about reproductive rights, social inequality, and proselytizing on a global scale. American Christian evangelicals are mobilized around a global project to adopt orphan children.Our speakers will explore the motivations and political impacts of this movement.

View the Recording

Reproductive Ethics in the Middle East

Over the last 50 years, reproductive technologies have completely transformed who can biologically reproduce and when. These medical advancements have significant ethical and political implications. While some religious and secular groups have embraced these scientific breakthroughs, others have warned against their unintended consequences. This discussion brings two leading anthropologists into conversation on how religion and gender intertwine in the reproductive lives and policies of the Middle East.

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Anti-Domestic Violence Work

In the United States, nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner each minute of the day. Today, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe intimate partner physical violence. How does religion offer both justifications for and possible resources to address domestic violence? This conversation brings together research, activism, and faith to address the problems and potentials of drawing on religion in anti-domestic violence work.

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The Endings and Beginnings of Sacred Communities: Changes in Monastic Living

In the 21st century, traditional forms of family and community are being re-envisioned. These transformations are shaping ideas about sexual ethics, marriage, community and nation, forging new social relations for religious clerics and everyday people alike. Drawing together insights from Buddhist history with the lived realities of& today’s Nuns Nones—a community of Catholic sisters and millennial seekers who come together in their shared commitments for justice—the evening’s conversation will contemplate new forms of connection that challenge and reinvigorate the idea of sacred community.

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Why are black Americans disproportionately incarcerated in America? In this session, we explore the historical, social, cultural, and religious roots of this injustice through the lens of black theology and with reference to the resources of the black church.

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Many of America’s prisoners have embraced Islam while incarcerated, and Muslims have also been active in caring for the social and religious needs of ex-offenders. In this session, we explore what Islam has to say and what Muslims are doing about incarceration in America.

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From the office to the hospital room, the benefits of mindfulness have been scientifically proven. In this session, we learn about various efforts to improve the lives of inmates through the practice of meditation.

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The Chinese government has a troubled relationship with the nation’s religious minorities. In this session, we hear from experts on the persecution and mass incarceration of China’s Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims.

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What draws people to the work of ecology, conservation, and environmental activism? In what sense is that work a vocation, a calling? In this session, we will hear from three scholars and activists, each with their own unique inspiration and vision of the work of ecology as a vocation.

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In this session, we will hear from scholars of two non-theistic religious traditions and learn how these traditions frame care for the Earth without reference to a Creator God. We will discover that Buddhism and Jainism contain powerful and promising resources, such as non-harm and interdependence, that can promote a robust environmental ethic.

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Climate change is the most significant environmental problem of our time. In this session we will consider the perils of climate change from a global perspective with the help of scholars of Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism.

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What does it mean to “think globally and act locally” in terms of ecology and ecojustice? In this session, we will hear from three scholars and activists on the important environmental work being done right here in Indiana.

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