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UC Berkeley Point of View

What role does religion play in your life?

A thousand points of view
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– These days, tables for student Bible study and campus ministry groups seem as prevalent on UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza as those for political science or environmental clubs. Meanwhile, religion is looming large in public discussions about American values. How religious are Berkeley students? We asked these 9 people to describe how religion figures into their lives.

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'My religion as a Sikh affects everything I do, even the food that I eat — I am a vegetarian because of my religion — and my appearance. I am not supposed to cut any hair, even my facial hair, and because culture and religion go together, I do not wear pants that are too baggy or too tight. In my religion, if you see someone you do not know, you say hello to them, and if you see someone of your religion, you will talk for a while.'
—Harpreet Singh, third-year public health major. Hometown: San Pablo, CA.
Harpreet Singh

Loan Pham
'I'm not religious, but I still believe in the ideas and philosophy of Buddhism. I want to have spiritual peace of mind. Buddhism helps me remember to take one thing at a time, and find calmness.'
—Loan Pham, first-year student (major undeclared). Hometown: Sacramento, CA.

'It's not a big deal to me. I am not a religious person. I just think religion has nothing to do with survival. My mom took me to church when I was a kid, and I believe in God, but I don't believe in religion. I don't need religion to know God. I think religion is mankind's way of siphoning things from people and making them suffer.'
—Kwame Agyepong, third-year molecular environmental biology major. Hometown: Fresno, CA.
Kwame Agyepong

Erin Vitali
'It's everything to me. It's my life. I live my life for God and my spiritual family. My goal is to have a heart that is pleasing to God.'
—Erin Vitali, second-year chemistry major. Hometown: Huntingdon Beach, CA.

'Not a very large one. I don't go to church regularly, and I don't consider myself religious, although I was raised Catholic. The last time I felt religious was when I had to take my qualifying exams.'
—Ross Epler, Ph.D. student in chemical engineering. Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ross Epler

Mayra Villalta
'I don't believe too much in organized religion. Religion is a personal choice, and if you want to be religious, that's your choice. It's part of my life, but in my own specific way. I do believe there's a higher being, but I'm not churchgoing — I don't think that listening to a minister or following a church's rules will save anyone from hell.'
—Mayra Villalta, third-year psychology (intended) major. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA.

'None. I went to Catholic school, but I didn't see the purpose or the use of religion in my life.'
—Matt Ward, fourth-year film studies major. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA.
Matt Ward

Jennifer Tillett
'Christianity is pretty important to me. I grew up in a Christian household, and it's shaped my morals, how I think about things. I consider it a guide for how to live my life, not a strict doctrine that I have to follow.'
—Jennifer Tillett, first-year applied mathematics (intended) major. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA.

'I was raised a Buddhist, but I don't go to temple and neither do my parents, even though they're religious. I've learned about a lot of religions, through religious studies classes, and I've integrated various morals and values from several of them. When I need to make decisions in my life I reflect back on what I've learned. There isn't a single religion for me.'
—Henry Truong, fourth-year political science major. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA.
Henry Truong