“I’m a non-denominational interfaith center,” says building shaped like a cross


The following is the transcript of an interview between Weekly reporter Greg Feiner and the Herrick Interfaith Center (the literal building). The transcript has been edited for length.

Greg Feiner: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.

Herrick Chapel: No problem. I’m literally built into the ground, so it wasn’t too hard to make the time.

GF: So to start off, what’s your full name and title?

HC: I am The Margaret Brown Herrick Memorial Chapel (or Interfaith Center) and the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL).

GF: Wow, that’s a mouthful.

HC: That’s why I usually just go by “Herrick.”

GF: Yeah, that’s understandable. And what precisely is your function for students?

HC: I am the center of all religious life on campus.

GF: And that includes all religions represented on campus, correct?

HC: Absolutely! Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, you name it.

GF: And you represent them all equally?

HC: You bet I do!

GF: So, why is it that you’re shaped like a cross?

HC: … I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.

GF: I mean, you’re literally built in the shape of a cross. I suppose I’m just a little confused as to how that represents all religions equally.

HC: You said this was going to be a puff piece.

GF: And you haven’t answered my question.

HC: You know what, I’m pretty offended by your insinuation that because I’m shaped like a cross, I favor Christianity.

GF: And yet the cross is the most prominent Christian symbol?

HC: Just because I’m shaped this way doesn’t mean I’m confined to your human ideas of symbolism.

GF: Well, the humans who founded this school built you in 1887 to function as a Christian chapel — again, in the shape of a cross. So, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate.

HC: Presbyterian.

GF: What?

HC: Specifically, I was originally a Presbyterian chapel.

GF: So you admit it!

HC: Okay, yes. So what if I “visually symbolize the college’s roots in the Christian tradition.” That doesn’t have to define me. I can work for other religions as well. I don’t have to be just one thing.

GF: I thought you weren’t confined to human ideas of symbolism.

HC: Well 

GF: Ok, that was a cheap shot, I’m sorry.

HC: And I forgive you. Like Jesus would.

GF: Like Jesus, huh?

HC: …or Buddha.

GF: Look, I’m not saying you can’t be more than just a Christian chapel or that you can’t support non-Christian religions …

HC: So, what are you saying?

GF: I’m saying that I don’t think you can claim to equally be a space for, say, Jewish or Muslim students when there are Christian stained glass windows lining your walls and your entire structure and foundation is constructed in the shape of a crucifix.

HC: You know, Jesus is one of the most respected prophets of both Judaism and Islam.

GF: But is he the main one, though?

HC: Get out.

GF: I thought churches were open to everyone.

HC: They are, unless you ask too many questions.