Faith Groups March for Science
Michael, a government relations specialist from the Washington, DC, area, said he carried a sign representing his Latter Day Saints faith to the Washington, DC, March for Science because his faith is his primary identity marker and he wanted to educate others about LDS beliefs. | AAAS / Christine A. Scheller
Thousands participated in the March for Science on April 22, in Washington, DC, and in cities across the country and around the world. Religious groups were well represented among the science supporters and enthusiasts gathered for the day's activities. For many, faith convictions compelled them to show their support for the process and societal benefits of science. Below are some examples.
- The Hindu American Foundation issued a statement on the march: “Science and scientific methodology are a natural fit for Hinduism,“ said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s Executive Director. “Ours has always been a tradition of inquiry. That’s the historical and theological framework which informs our efforts to promote policies that are backed by science. We also need to encourage scientists, especially the countless Hindu Americans contributing to the sciences, to bridge the knowledge gap between them and the public at large about the everyday impact of their work.”
- The Forward published an article on why a some Jewish scientists marched. Among them, “Judaism and science both teach us that there’s no one way of looking at things,” said David Mogul, a professor of biomedical engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology. “There’s always another perspective,” he said.
- Likewise, BioLogos, a Christian science organization founded by NIH Director Francis Collins, published an article explaining why three Christian scientists Explain marched for science. "To us, first and foremost, the March is in support of rigorous, solid, evidence-based science. We acknowledge that science is a human endeavor, prone to bias and error. However, the scientific norms and practices that we in the scientific community subject ourselves to, work to limit this bias and error. Just as democracy embraces checks and balances as a tool to combat the potential corruption of any one branch of government, science embraces a long, arduous peer review process by independent researchers as a tool to combat the biases, mistakes, and blind spots that may plague any one researcher or team," the scientist co-authors said.
- "Science is Sacred!" read a sign that Geoff Mitelman, director of Sinai and Synapses, carried in the New York City satellite march. Mitelman explained: "As I marched, dozens of people came up to me asking to take a photo. As I talked with fellow science enthusiasts, a devout Catholic told me how much she values science. A Southern Baptist told me that she sees God in the work of scientists. And a woman in a hijab said, 'That’s an amazing sign! Shabbat Shalom.' But my goal in marching wasn’t just to advocate for science. It was to surprise people, and show people that we can often discover unexpected allies. Indeed, most people don’t realize how much we need religious people to be advocates for science, and how much scientists need to communicate with religious people."
- Science Magazine reported on religious involvement in the Chicago march. "'Our goal is to get people of faith from across Chicago to march for science,' Brian Sauder told ScienceInsider [about his Anabaptist group's involvement]. 'We want to show that people of faith do take science seriously and that this perception that there is a deep divide is indeed not true.'” Saudeer is executive director of Faith in Place, an Illinois environmental group.
- At a satellite march in Trenton, New Jersey, approximately 3000 people gathered. Among them was the Rev. Yucan Chiu, chaplain for graduate faculty at Rutgers University and pastor of Ethnos, a church in New Brunswick. Chiu was one of two clergy members on the steering comittee for the Trenton march, he told DoSER. In that role, he recruited other religious leaders and faith groups for the event. "We really wanted to make sure this was an inclusive march, and didn't want to get into unnecessary science vs. faith paradigms," Chui said. Organizers wanted to get a range of people involved, added Matt Buckely, assitant professor of astrophysics at Rutgers and a co-organizer for the march. "It was important to make it clear that the March for Science was not a march against religion," Buckely said.
- The Clergy Letter Project, a group whose mission is to provide clergy support for evolution, extended the support of its 14,400 members to formal endorsement of the March for Science. "The Clergy Letter Project’s endorsement should be seen as strong support for the very premise of science at a time when it appears to be under attack. The clergy of The Clergy Letter Project are opposed all attempts to politicize science from writing legislation to promote creationism in public school science classrooms and laboratories to denying the reality of climate change. Furthermore, they understand the critical difference between scientific fact and personal opinion and recognize that the latter cannot substitute for the former," the project's executive director Michael Zimmerman wrote at The Huffinton Post.
- Joshua Weitz, professor of biology at Georgia Techand a participant in DoSER's Perceptions Project, spoke to MindPop podcast host David Sehat about the importance of dialogue between scientists and religious communities and how that relates to the March for Science.
- Finally, DoSER Director Jennifer Wiseman spoke to Sojourners editor Catherine Woodiwiss about the March. (Woodiwiss was a 2015 winner of our Science for Religion Reporters award.)
Did your faith community get involved? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!