HomeCampusHindu Chaplain Leads the Faithful at University of Southern California

Hindu Chaplain Leads the Faithful at University of Southern California

Varun SoliVarun Soni stands alone among college chaplains.

In a country where Christianity remains the dominant faith, Soni is the only known University chaplain who happens to be Hindu.

Soni was named to the post in 2008. At the time, he was the only non-Christian campus chaplain in the country. Today there are only a handful, according to the
Los Angeles Times.

There’s a rabbi at both Dartmouth and Wesleyan and a Buddhist at Emerson.

“It’s very, very hard to divorce the pomp and circumstances of academia from particularly Protestant traditions,” said Dena Bodian, president of the National Assn. of College and University Chaplains. “Chaplains like Varun enable us all to rethink what chaplaincy in higher ed could look like.”

Recently Soni brought together religious leaders of various faiths to discuss the recent rise of hate crimes in the country.

“So what should our role be, running our different groups on campus?” Soni asked. “Is an attack on one religion an attack on all religions?”

Soni makes it a point not to push one religion over the other. He even brought in a “humanist chaplain” to reach out to students who don’t believe in God.

“I really liked the idea that he was about spirituality, instead of forcing any religion down my throat,” student Eugenia Huang said. “You often see people turn to religion when they’re sick or experiencing pain, and so I had always viewed it as something for the weak.”
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