Campus Pride Blog

All’s Fair in Love and Religion

So, update on my campus religious organization issue.

Quick recap: My campus’s Christian organizations have recently been mobilizing- confronting non-Christian individuals on campus and challenging their beliefs, closing their doors to questioning students (only allowing in affirmed Christian students), and most concerning to my position questioning LGBT students on campus and trying to “save” us.

Most recently, the leader of a group on campus asked our President when our next meeting is, and after she told him she asked if he wanted time to speak at the meeting or what we could do for him, and he said he just wanted to “show up”. One of our students was told that this person and some of the students in his organization are going to come to our meeting and pray over us. Well, we notified our advisor and she went to the director of student activities. Our initial plan was apparently to allow them 3 minutes at the beginning of our meeting to lead us in a prayer and hope that they made them happy. Now I’m going to preface this by admitting that I have some pretty “atheistic” views. I put that in quotes, because I’m not necessarily anti-beliefs, or an anarchist like some would associate with that term. Simply put, I don’t believe in any sort of higher power, and I don’t like those views being forced on anyone who doesn’t seek them out. I think it’s fine to have a personal belief system, and to share that with like-minded individuals… but persecution is definitely outside my “things that are OK” zone. So I kind of went crazy. I told our advisor in our meeting that there was absolutely no way we should allow them in our doors, no less allow them to pray over us.

First off, we’re not a religious organization nor are we partisan. If we let the Christians pray with us or for us, we have to invite the Pagan student organization, the Muslim student organization, and any other religious student organization to come to our meeting. Second, we are again not a religious organization. Why are we praying at a meeting? Not only is that not really serving us or our interests as an organization… some of our members already have enough issues with religious conflict internally or at home, and we are most definitely an organization that should serve to affirm their sexuality and give forth the idea that they are okay as they are, there’s no way I’m supporting anyone coming into our space to tell us who we are is wrong, especially not with my endorsement and put on my agenda. Third, we are a designated “Safe Space” on campus, and we have a strict “no outing” policy. The members of these organizations on campus have already been known to single out individuals and challenge their belief systems, and already pulled our President aside and told her that “Jesus told [them] to come and save” her. I’m not giving them face to face access to our entire membership roster. I refuse to be persecuted on my campus, and I refuse to let anyone under the watch of my position go through the same.

Well luckily, my advisor and our Student Activities director had my same train of thought, and I think I definitely reinforced it in our meeting. Now, the plan is to let them come to our meeting, but if they speak out to call Campus Police and file an incident report. Part of me agrees with this, because I don’t want to bar anyone from attending our meetings… but I still feel very uncomfortable allowing them to access our members. Do any of you have thoughts or similar experiences with this sort of thing on your campus?