Varied Worship

Students reflect on what it’s like growing up outside of Christianity.


Erin Taylor, Staff Writer

Embedded in the middle of America’s Bible Belt, Christianity has been the staple of the expected religion of Arkansas; however the uprising in different religions has been present. Schools like Bryant have attracted diverse students and their families. These families have varied religious practices, though many in the student body may not be aware

According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of adults practice Christian religions, the impact other religions have is not inferior. With that percentage, different religions aren’t as acknowledged. 

Sophomore Bhavya Patel, is a follower of Hinduism teachings.

“It teaches me and guides me to what I have to do and where I have to go,” Patel said. 

Patel noticed the struggles that Hindus face while she attended her old school. 

“People used to get bullied for what they come from, but when I shifted to Bryant, I think it’s better. I’m speaking for myself,” Patel said. 

Like Patel, Sophomore Sarah Barnett has also seen harassment of students with diverse religious perspectives. 

“I personally do [feel accepted], but my brother who is also Muslim has been called things like a ‘towelhead,’ ‘Sand n-words’ and I’m like, it’s terrible. Have some class,” Barnett said. 

Barnett expresses that this harassment and verbal attacks hurt the image of the school community. 

“You wouldn’t want me calling you something like that, and I think it’s hateful language that should not be spread, especially in a school environment,”Barnett said. 

These struggles, however, do not degrade the positive aspects of religion. Diverse religions offer multiple rituals and festivals that are intended to better oneself. Senior Kiya Britt, a follower of Paganism, describes some of her practices.  

“One thing that’s really important in deity work is called shadow work,” Britt said. “It’s working to better yourself, so I tend to notice a lot of the negative attributes of myself and work to make them better. 

According to Barnett, she performs practices relating to Islam as much as she can.

“You have to clean yourself. You get a carpet,  you have to cover up your hair and your skin. Then you have to speak in Arabic, and you have to do that like five times a day, and you have to fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which differs every twelve days. It goes back twelve days. Sometimes it’s in winter, sometimes it’s in summer which is the worst, but it’s a lot, but I try to do the amount that I want or that I’m comfortable with,” Barnett said. 

Students are able to explore and find value through diverse religions. 

“It’s unique in a sense. It’s important to me in the sense that I can express myself and my beliefs through the work that I do,” Britt said. “I can speak with the ones that I want to, and basically you can choose what to do and what not to do. It’s reflective of the individual, not the group.” 

Along with Britt, Barnett explains how Islam is important to her. 

“It really. . . Gives me a sense of purpose, and it can help me with moral dilemmas and it gives me a really good moral compass,” Barnett said. 

Britt expresses how different representation in religions is beneficial. 

“Well, it promotes individuality, seeing people different from the majority religion, it just promotes the fact that we can be what we want to be. It’s encouraging that you can just be different,” Britt said.