The Ocean County Human Relations Commission (OCHRC) and Ocean County Prosecutors Office (OCPO) invite you to an event Thursday night at the Ocean County Library in Toms River where an open dialogue will take place on Cultural Diversity and Tolerance with local religious leaders.

Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission in Toms River. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media).

"This is not trying to come up with an answer, but trying to come up with an understanding. Sometimes I think we misunderstand other peoples faiths," said OCHRC Director and event moderator Tim Hart.

Hart explains how this open dialogue will allow the community to learn more about one another's faith so we can better understand each other.

"I think when everyone, and each faith community, can see their leaders talking to leaders of other faith communities, then they say 'well, that must be okay to do that, must be alright to have that conversation'," said Hart.

'Many Voices, One Message' runs from 6 pm until 8 pm in the library's Mancini Hall, with various religious leaders from the community you can view in this link.

"I think the most important thing [to understand] is that Ocean County is not a mono-culture," said Hart.

He explains that religious diversity offers an enrichment of our culture. The discussion offers a chance "to see the similarities and differences (of other groups), and there's nothing wrong with being different."

The number of religious groups in Ocean County have grown over time, Hart says, pointing out that it's an evolution of America's demographic future.

"There are over 1,000 Hindu families in Ocean County now," he remarked. "There's the Orthodox Jewish community, the Russian Orthodox community. Ocean County had a mono-culture reputation, but that's not really true anymore. It's becoming quite different, whether it's Mexican-Americans, or Hondurans and Guatemalans in the southern part of the County. America used to be the "Melting Pot," now it's the "Mosaic."

MInorities, in aggregage, now constitute majorities in Middlesex and Cumberland Counties, Hart points out, "I think New Jersey is going to make the crossover in 2030 and I think the nation is supposed to make the crossover in 2050. We need to understand the changing demographics, the complexities."

Hart says it's important to better understand other religions because they all have something to offer and that education is a vital tool in finding commonality in other faiths.

"We hope this is just going to be the first of a lot of meetings," said Hart. "I know that people in the southern part of the county want to have a meeting down there."

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