2023 Inter-Religious Conference

Making Meaning in a time of Media Polarization

Public and social media cultivate outrage. Disinformation mixes freely with information. Activists call attention to a crisis of democracy. How should spiritual and religious communities respond? What is our role in making meaning together? Join journalists, scholars, activists, and spiritual teachers in exploring these questions.

An Inter-Religious Conference
May 30 – June 1, 2023
Vancouver School of Theology

Attend in person or via Zoom
Access recordings through June 30

Register by May 26 for in-person (includes lunch both days)
Register by May 29 for Zoom (session recordings available through June 30)


Keynote Lecture

Disinformation and Democracy

Peter W. Klein
Canadian journalist; Emmy Award-winner; Founder, Global Reporting Centre

Tuesday May 30, 7-8:30 pm
Free and open to the public

Register for the Keynote Lecture

Events for Registered Participants


Gaslighting, Conspiracy, Propaganda, and Fascism:
A Conversation with Sarah Kendzior and Jason Stanley

Dr. Sarah Kendzior, American journalist, is co-host of Gaslit Nation Podcast, and author of They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent



Dr. Jason Stanley, philosopher, is author of How Propaganda Works and How Fascism Works




Posting Peace: Positive Social Media Use

Workshop with Rev. Andria Irwin and Rev. Dr. Douglas Bursch
Rev. Andria Irwin is co-author of Following: Embodied Discipleship in a Digital Age
Rev. Dr. Douglas Bursch is author of Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It

Making Fruitful Interfaith Connections

Panel Discussion and Workshop
with Rev. Catherine Keene Merchant (Buddhist), Sheikh Jamal Rahman (Muslim), Farid Rohani (Bahá’í), Rev. Don MacKenzie (Christian), Rev. John Snow (Stoney Nakoda)

Opening and Closing Dialogues

Dr. Terry S. Neiman, Professor of Communications, Douglas College

Presentations by Scholars and Activists

  • Youth, Social Media and Social Activism: A Perspective from Nigeria
    Lydia Abaga
  • Quranic Interpretation without Language Diplomacy: A Threat to Peace and Stability
    Dr. Mohammed Marzuq Abubakari
  • Restoring Community in a Divided Countryside: Anger and Healing in Rural Communities
    Dr. Marvin Lee Anderson
  • The Theology of the Artist’s Way
    William Burr
  • Resisting Truth Decay: Critical Tools for Religious Education
    Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan
  • Debate Without Polarization: Lessons from the Talmud
    Rabbi Dr. Julie Hilton Danan
  • Interfaith Collaborations: A Gain for All!
    Dr. Chris Osahon Eigbike
  • Thrown Into Confusion: Media Polarization in the Book of Esther
    Maria Hearing
  • Theology in the Public Square
    Rev. Violet Johnicker
  • The Source of Story: How Ancient Texts and Traditions Can Guide Our Approach
    Rachel Jones
  • The Ignatian Path: Discernment as Critical Tool for Navigating Digital Space
    Kemboi Silas Kipkorir
  • Two Factors in the Media Circle that Influenced the Popularity of the Prosperity Gospels in the US
    Rev. Chanil Lee
  • Acedia, the Issue Behind Life Difficulties
    Dr. Dave MacQuarrie
  • ‘This means war!’ Left/Right Polarization and the Culture(d?) Battles for/with/by Kids in Jesus Camp
    James Magee
  • The Apostle Paul: Media Polarizer
    Dr. Harry O. Maier
  • For Heaven’s Sake! What the Talmud and Nature Teach us About How to Disagree
    Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit
  • Using Lies to Tell the Truth: Ideological Divisions, Artistic Interventions, and the Role of Creativity in Cultural Change
    Keith Murray
  • Community Organizing as a Antidote for Polarization in Rural Communities
    Rev. Robin Murray
  • Reclaiming Morality and Ethics as Meaningfully Interdependent Determiners of Justice
    Dr. Terry S. Neiman
  • Scream-worthy Sequel or Repetitive Reboot? (Re)Viewing Revelation’s Apocalyptic Violence after an American Insurrection
    Marshall S. Eaton Pickard
  • Table Top Role Game as a Contemporary Focal Practice enabling Christian Praxis
    Marcus Reidner and Jerremie Clyde 
  • Machine Bias: the Myth of “Neutral” Technology
    Ian Reed
  • Unity in Diversity: Eschatological Hope in Presbyterian Marriage
    Rev. Rebecca Simpson
  • Conversational Etiquettes of Late Antiquity and Today in Pursuit of Peace
    Dr. Mark J. Stein
  • Attempting Collaboration in a Polarized Setting: A Case History
    Walter Wawruck
  • Solidarity as More Faithful than Separation
    Rev. Todd Wiebe
  • “Most People are Better than Their Theology”: The Call for Particularity
    Allison Williams
  • Underlying Causes of Polarization in Media and the Role of Religion & Philosophy in Decreasing this Divergence
    Nasir Zaidi

Registration is now open

  • Registration fee: Students $85/ General $175
  • Financial aid available, contact LDKaplan@vst.edu

Register Now!


Contact Conference Administrator Dr. Nicola Hayward, nhayward@vst.edu, or
Conference Director Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan, LDKaplan@vst.edu.