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Crow calls for 'new abolitionists' at Council of Religious Advisors meeting

Recent events leave ASU president resolute in matters of equality and diversity

August 23, 2017

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

ASU President Michael M. Crow called for “a time for new abolitionists” in remarks to a group of Valley faith leaders on Wednesday.

Crow said there are many lessons that can be taken from the tragedy earlier this month in Charlottesville, Va., and other recent displays of overt hate and racism — mostly that positive action can change history.

“They (abolitionists) were a powerful force and led to change. It might be time for new abolitionists,” Crow said to a group of about 65 people.

“We’re going to abolish not slavery — we’re going to abolish all notions of not equal. It’s going to be gone,” he said. “And when it’s gone I can guarantee you we will have a better chance at a greater and more wholesome society.”

Abolitionists were individuals who advocated forcefully for an end to slavery prior to the Civil War. Many were religious leaders. They believed slavery was a national sin and that it was the moral obligation of every citizen to eradicate it from the American landscape.

Crow’s conversation with faith-based organizations and campus ministries on issues surrounding unity, faith, equality and racism was at the invitation of ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors.

He typically speaks to CORA at the start of each school year to thank them for their work and share insights into efforts for the year and how they factor as a contributing group to the campus community in meaningful ways.

“It’s President Crow’s way of showing support to the council because he is a big believer in religious freedom and unity,” said Council President Tracy Rapp. “Even though we might not all have the same beliefs, we are all here to support one another in friendship.”


CORA President Tracy Rapp addresses the group at its first meeting of the year, at the Tempe LDS Institute. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

She added that the council’s mission is to promote goodwill, cooperation and dialogue among all of the religious and faith-based groups represented in the campus community, without any compromise of the beliefs of the particular faiths represented.

Rapp said their mission is also to “dispel myths about religion in order to gain a better understanding of one another’s beliefs." 

Approximately 30 faith-based organizations involved with the council engage in a number of volunteer activities such as providing food, clothing and shelter to the homeless, working with cities and communities on emergency-preparedness efforts, working to bring families out of crisis, and providing guidance and support to students.

They also assist with New Student Welcome activities and orientations, as well as hold spiritual awareness fairs on campus to educate the community about religious opportunities and faiths. In the past they’ve offered activities such as comedy shows, movie nights and lunches on the lawn.

Crow said the uptick in recent rallies and marches led by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and fascists and the intensity of their hate has left him profoundly disturbed but also resolute.

“Fascism was defeated at the cost of millions of lives. Millions of lives,” Crow said. “There’s no room for fascists or Nazi sympathizers, period. And as to racism, which often goes along with fascism, no room for that either.”

Crow said ASU is a model of diversity for others to emulate, citing an international student body of about 13,000 people from approximately 130 different countries. He called the university a “pocket of the future.”

“We are the future. Working together. Studying together. Living together. Creating things together. Making things happen,” Crow said.

“The world we have here is the world we want.”

Top photo: President Michael Crow addresses a variety of Valley faith-based organizations and campus ministries on issues surrounding unity, faith, equality and racism was at the invitation of ASU's Council of Religious Advisors. He called for a recommitment to words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now