The 8th conference by Nazareth University's Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and the IIIT Chair for Islamic & Interfaith Studies once again bring together scholars from around the globe to share research on contemporary issues in religion and social sciences. 

Race in Sacred Texts and Human Contexts

Present Location:  Nazareth University, 4245 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14618

When: May 27-29, 2025, Tuesday- Thursday

Why this conference title:

Racism, Xenophobia, violence, ethnic and religious hate in our modern world have fractured individuals and communities. Humanity is desperately seeking healing in the midst of this hateful, violent atmosphere of our 21st century. We have addressed in our previous conferences issues like gender, wealth and poverty, environment, (de)legitimization of violence, mystical traditions and exclusion or inclusion.  Our 8th conference of May 2025 would investigate, expand on the concepts and issues of “race” in religious traditions.  Our conferences always invite reflection on religions’ sacred texts — this time with an emphasis on “race” and the construction of meaningful alternatives to the current polarized challenges of our violent world.

The modern meaning of race mostly appeared in western literature during sixteen and seventeen century literature defining people based on physical appearance like skin color, hair texture, facial features, and others. Ethnicity typically refers to cultural, social, and linguistic norms that a group of people share. For example, 'black' might be considered a 'race', but it is made up of many ethnic groups. common language, customs, food habits, stories of a common history and other values. 

Sacred texts refer to the stories of creation as well as differences among people in colors, languages, religions, and other cultural traits. The Abrahamic sacred texts refer to the creation of Adam and Eve, their offspring and the spread of humanity into racial, ethnic, and tribal categories with multiple languages, customs, beliefs, and other social values. The Indian originated faiths had a dual version of creation, the cosmic egg, and the creation of the cosmos through the sacrifice of the Primal Man, Mahapurush including the creation of caste system. The same is true about Chinese originated religions and other indigenous faiths how the universe was created and how racial and ethnic classes could be justified.

While racial and ethnic differences are natural and  based on environmental conditions, but racism, ethnocentrism, tribalism, and nationalism are disgusting, and is an affront to human dignity. This conference will address the issue of race in its various aspects in world sacred texts and human contexts.

Race and pondering its significance produces interesting topics in light of our contemporary issues. While we hope to build upon the topics of our previous conferences, we would appreciate presentations that draw connections to the religions’ sacred texts. The conference title “Race in Sacred Texts and Human Contexts” offers a wide range of research options from religious interfaith perspectives.

 Panel Titles include but not limited to:

  * Race, Racism, and Xenophobia

 * Creation, race, and racism

* Race, ethnicity and ethnocentrism!

* Race, racism and hateful rhetoric

* Race, Tribe and Tribalism

* Race, nation and nationalism!

* The intersection of race and religions

 race and Eugenics

* Interfaith Dialogue in crisis: the emergence of ethno- religious nationalism in religions

* Interfaith dialogue as an antidote racism

  Submitting a proposal:

The Conference is open to scholars in religious studies, theology and social sciences from US and abroad as presenters or participants.
 *   The proposal should be no more than 550 words.
 *   Send a 225-word resume that presents expertise in the area of your presentation.
 *   Include your address, telephone number, and email address.
 *   Last date to receive your proposal is December 31, 2024, earlier is preferred. Notice of acceptances or otherwise will be sent by January 15, 2025. 

 * Guidelines for full presentation will be emailed with acceptance of proposal..
 * Selected papers are published   

 * Email proposals to: or


Administration and Planning

Event Partners
  • Administered by Nazareth University's Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, and IIIT Chair for Islamic and Interfaith Studies, Rochester, NY

Institutional partners of the conference include:

  • Department of Religious Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
  • International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
  • Department of Religious Studies, Nazareth University
  • Department of Religious Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
  • Center for Spirituality, Nazareth University
Planning Committee

Conference Planning Committee

  • Dr. Thomas Donlin-Smith
    Department of Religious Studies, Nazareth College
  • Dr. Mustafa Gokcek
    Niagara University, Niagara Falls, NY
  • Dr. Michael Dobkowski
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Department of Religious Studies, Geneva, NY
  • Dr. Shalahudin Kafrawi
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Department of Religious Studies, Geneva, NY
  • Dr. David Hill
    Emeritus, State University of New York at Oswego, Editorial Advisor to the Hickey Center
  • Dr. Matthew J. Temple
    Biology Department, Nazareth College
  • Dr. Etin Anwer
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Department of Religious Studies, Geneva, NY
  • The Rev.Dr. Denise C. Yarbrough
    Director, Religious and Spiritual Life, University of Rochester, Interfaith Chapel
  • Dr. Muhammad Shafiq
    Conference Coordinator and Executive Director of the Hickey Center, IIIT Chair for Islamic & Interfaith Studies, Nazareth College

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Past Conferences and Publications

2013: Focused on the role of sacred texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in uniting and dividing humanity. Selected papers from the conference were published in December 2014: Sacred Texts & Human Contexts: A North American Response to A Common Word between Us and You

2014: Held in Istanbul. Focused on poverty and wealth in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Selected papers were published by Palgrave MacMillan in June 2016: Poverty and Wealth in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

2016: Focused on nature and the environment in religions. Selected papers were published in January 2018: Nature and the Environment in Contemporary Religious Contexts. A WXXI public radio half-hour interview with Thomas Donlin-Smith, professor of religious studies at Nazareth University; Nathan Kollar, Hickey Center co-founder; and others explored how faith influences the environment. Fall 2017 publication by Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Nature and Environment in Contemporary Religious Contexts.

2017: Focused on women and gender in religions. Selected papers were published in February 2019: Making Gender in the Intersection of the Human and the Divine.

2018: Sacred Text and Human Context international conference is on Religions and (De)Legitimization of Violence on July 29-31, 2018 at Nazareth University. More than 50 scholarly papers are expected to be presented on the topic. The Conference Committee have selected 17 Papers for publication. The editing process are mostly compete and we are sending the manuscript to publishers. The book: Religions and (De)Legitimization of Violence (2021, Palgrave).

2021 Focused on Mystical Traditions: Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence was held virtually on May 24-25, 2021. Selected papers are submitted for publication. Palgrave McMillion is publishing it and hopefully it will be available by Feb.1, 2023.

2023: Conference on Inclusion or Exclusion: The Self and the Other in Sacred Texts and Human Contexts was held at Nazareth University of Rochester on May 22-24,2023 and has been accepted by Palgrave for publication