Religion at Packer
Any student, faculty, or staff member who has ever worked at, or even visited, Packer would all be left with a universal and unyielding impression of our school. Packer has earned itself an infamous reputation of acceptance, engagement, and equity, but is this all just a fallacy? When it comes to talking about religion within our community, it just might be.
At Packer, we pride ourselves on being a community working towards creating a more accepting environment through identity workshops, affinity spaces, and the creation of opportunities for those who feel marginalized within our school’s walls. While religious students are arguably neither privileged nor discriminated against, it is undeniable that this identifier is often overlooked when considering how one experiences life at Packer.
The negative stigma of being “behind the times” that surrounds religious devotion creates discomfort within the community, whether it be faith specific or not.
One example brought up by Andrew Tortoriello (‘21) is the generalization of “people thinking that Catholics are all homophobic.”
“Most people associate being Jewish with having money and/or being white and I feel like that’s what makes people assume that being Jewish automatically makes you privileged,” said Esme Levine (‘19).
At Packer, the liberal ideology of progression and acceptance can be religiously exclusive; both Catholicism and Judaism are examples of how certain religious groups are stereotyped as over-privileged, which unfairly assumes arrogance. In doing so, religion is associated with being unaccepting and not PC, both of which are titles students work tirelessly to evade.
For instance, Andrew Tortoriello (‘21) said, “my friend made fun of me and someone else for believing in a God.”
Andrew’s quote sheds light on the important, ignored reality of PC culture at Packer as being synonymous to atheism. This culture is rooted in a fear of religious extremism; as a result, a large number of students and staff feel that being agnostic is the solution to maintaining a liberal, PC front. The hypocrisy inherent in this ideology is that, according to, the Oxford Dictionary, liberalism is defined as being “willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas.” The idea that being agnostic embodies this ideal exposes how unwilling we are the consider the complexities of religion, and isolates members of our community.
Just as faith does not exonerate religious members of our community from their responsibility to respect others’ choices, non-religious students and staff have an equal responsibility to respect the religious beliefs of others. Rather than assuming religious beliefs to be synonymous with hatred, we should strive to understand the beliefs of those around us in order to better understand and examine the community we exist within.