April 10, 2014
My mom is a minister. I grew up going to church, taught Sunday school for my graduation project and taught Bible school every summer for 7 years. I was immersed in Christianity growing up, but unlike most people who suffered such exposure, I didn’t grow up to be an extremist. In fact, I’m a fairly lousy Christian by some people’s standards. I pray every day, but I don’t go to church and I don’t take the Bible very literally.
Mostly, I believe in God and believe in treating others with love and respect as much as possible. Still I know my stuff. I can quote the Bible better than a lot of church goers. That’s only a small part of why a lot of people who label themselves as Christians really get my goat. It bothers me even more when these people come in zealot form and think that they have any right to try to impose their skewed pseudo-Christian beliefs on the rest of the world And I take special offense when such attempts at oppression are carried out in the classroom of a public school, like our own college campus. Lately, that’s just the sort of thing I’ve been finding around me.
For example, every morning before my philosophy class starts, I have to listen to the whisperings of kids who are offended by our atheist professor and that he would dare to question the existence of God. A college class is asking you to critically question a belief, whether or not it’s your own. Who would imagine such a ridiculous scenario? In other classes I’ve taken, particularly art and English classes, I’ve noticed that there’s always someone who is offended by the nudity or profanity present in art and literature. It’s hard to believe in 2014 that these people haven’t encountered anything that’s offended their beliefs before.
Even if they haven’t, they’ve chosen to come to a public college. What else do you expect? Here’s the thing about the Bible, folks: it is not an academic text. Despite what some of you seem to think, it is not a universal rule book that all must follow. It may be the guiding light for your morals and beliefs, but it has nothing to do with class curricula. If something at LHU offends your Christian beliefs, that’s tough cookies kiddos. This campus is home to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Buddhists, atheists—you name it and we’ve probably got it. It’s pretty narrow-minded and judgmental to try and impose your beliefs on public education.
Judgment, by the way, is one of those things you’re supposed to leave to God, in case you forgot. The term blasphemy comes to mind… I’m not saying no one should voice their religious beliefs on campus. I’m not saying anyone should forsake their faith either. But I am suggesting—hold on because here’s a radical thought—that you can’t try to paint your religion over an education you’re sharing with the rest of us and you can’t be offended when that public education conflicts with your beliefs, sincere or otherwise. The concept is called separation of church and state and it’s a way to reckon to with the fact that America was founded on the notion of religious freedom. Whatever you believe in and whether or not you believe are choices you get in America. But at Lock Haven University, the only choice you really get is to check your faith at the door, so to speak. Believe what you want, but understand that if others disagree, they’re allowed.