TUSCALOOSA | A Methodist church isn't typically the place to learn about Hinduism or Islam, but Forest Lake United Methodist is opening its doors and taking a chance on faith.
Every Tuesday night, church members and people of varying beliefs meet to take part in a religious studies series on some of the world's great religions.
Geologist Mirza Beg leads the series each week. Jane Darden, Forest Lake's pastoral assistant, said she wanted to know more about other religions after talking with Beg, and got the idea to get him to come speak at the church.
"This is the first of its kind," Darden said.
Beg said The series at Forest Lake was the first time he'd given a session like this and he was surprised by how open-minded people were. After finishing a 12-week session on Islam, Beg opened this week's series on Hinduism.
"I don't try to paint a picture one way or another, and I lay it down as it is. I separate my opinion," Beg said.
Beg, who is originally from India, studies and writes about religion and religious issues extensively. Beg said he is a staunch advocate of religious tolerance and said that it's unfortunate that many of today's wars are fought in the name of religion.
"I have the view that people should come to know about each other, and if I wish for you the same freedom that I wish for myself, then there would be harmony in the world," he said.
Bob Griffin, a retired UA professor and Forest Lake United Methodist member, believes it's important to understand other cultures and people.
"It's the only way our world will work in harmony," Griffin said. "If you're someone who hates anything different, at least by attending you can hate knowledgeably."