Featured Video Play Icon


CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2024) — The Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III ’67 Institute for Religious Liberty (IRL) at Thomas More University hosted “Who’s My God?,” an interfaith dialogue featuring a panel of religious experts, on campus Feb. 21, 2024. Since 2015 this innovative institute has played an active role in advancing the American concept of religious freedom as an inalienable right and the protection of that right for all people. Topics have ranged from legal cases entrenched in religious liberty, modern-day activism, understanding antisemitism, and refugeeism as a result of religious persecution. This particular event took a different approach than previous talks and focused on the personal aspect and relationship of who God is for the participating panelists, all of whom have a direct connection to the IRL and are active in their faith.

Brian Adams, Ph.D., moderated the conversation. Adams is the chair of the governing board for A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY), an international NGO supporting youth leadership in interfaith and intercultural dialogue. He was founding director of the Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue in Brisbane, Australia, and the architect of the G20 Interfaith Forum, among other dialogue platforms. Adams focuses on the promotion of interreligious, intercultural, and inter-organizational respect and understanding across cultural, religious, and organizational boundaries.

Spring IRL lineup
On hand as speakers and dignitaries for the spring IRL event are moderator Brian Adams, Ph.D., Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D., Thomas More Professor Hannah Keegan, IRL Executive Director Raymond Hebert, Ph.D., Brett Greenhalgh, Shakila T. Ahmad, Thomas More President Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D., Thomas More Board of Trustees Chair Judith Marlowe, Ph.D.

The panelists, representing a variety of religious affiliations, added to the evening. Panelists included Shakila T. Ahmad representing the Muslim religion, Brett Greenhalgh representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hannah Keegan the Roman Catholic religion, and Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D. the Jewish religion. 

Ahmad is an enthusiastic community leader who dedicates herself to numerous civic and community causes, building peace and understanding for the last 25+ years. She serves as board chair for Cincinnati COMPASS and previously served five years as chair and president of the board at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC); the first woman to serve in this capacity at such an institution across the country. Ahmad currently serves on the executive board of the IRL. Greenhalgh is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has served on the executive board of the IRL since its inception in 2015. Hannah Keegan received her theological training at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C., and is an adjunct professor of theology at Thomas More. She was recently named the inaugural director of the Center for Faith, Mission, & Catholic Education at the University. Zola is the Executive Director Emeritus of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. He has served the College-Institute, where he received both his rabbinic ordination (1982) and his doctorate in American Jewish history (1991), for more than four decades. Zola also is a founding member of the executive committee for the IRL. 

During the course of the dialogue, each panelist discussed and shared their personal relationship as it relates to their understanding of ‘God’ and how that has developed during their lifetime as a result of experiences, religious training, external influences, and personal reflection. Adams began the talk with these words, “These people are pioneers in doing this type of work for the Institute, each panelist is deeply committed to their faith traditions; the question we put forth to them is ‘who is my God?’ It isn’t simply, who is God according to your traditions but is purposefully meant to be a personal expression of what this divine being is to ‘me’ personally.” 

Zola spoke to the concept that not only were these four panelists’ relationships varied due to the doctrine they practice, but that even within the same religion, no two relationships with ‘God’ are the same based on if the individual follows more conservative or liberal sects within the religion. The stories relayed were very powerful reminders of how this very personal connection to a higher power evolved during the course of a lifetime.

For more information about the IRL and access to previous events, visit thomasmore.edu/religiousliberty.

For more information about Thomas More University, visit thomasmore.edu.