In a piece by Baylor University senior Justin Mueller, he argues that the school “should be more friendly to groups of disbelief.”
Within the Atheist and Agnostic Society on campus (yes, there is one) nearly every member has told his or her “story” of their rejection of religious ideas, and the oft-ensuing parental sobbing and family strife that unsurprisingly follows.
Some of these people have also been homosexuals, which can add another layer of duress with the conservative prejudices that can accompany religiosity.
He sheds the myths…
As far as I know, very few atheists eat unbaptized babies. Nor do we have a higher propensity for kicking puppies, to my knowledge.
… and tells anecdotes of intolerance:
We have no crosses or official symbols, yet the display of a simple Darwin fish, or some other celebration of science and reason is far more likely to receive the smashing in of a windshield with a baseball bat, or a personally delivered death threat (both of which I have had the pleasure of receiving during my tenure at this loving Christian community) than any sort of openly positive response.
And he asks university leaders a great question:
Finally, and perhaps most futile, a query for Baylor’s religious establishment: Why are non-Christians not deserving of recognition and the right to organize on campus?
Yes, we non-Christians are fully aware that this is a private religious university, and that you can do what you wish. The question is whether you should.
It is hypocritical to portray Baylor as a university that respects diversity and seeks intellectual advancement while denying the aspirations for self-discovery and intelligent discussion that many students can only find in the sorts of groups and organizations that Baylor disallows.
Baylor will never achieve its long-term goals of academic maturity if it continues to ignore and treat non-Christian students as if they are undeserving of similar privileges.
What exactly is he talking about, though? Isn’t his atheist group already on campus?
Yes, but only unofficially.
Check out this article from just over a year ago:
In spring 2005, Mueller approached Dr. Dub Oliver, vice president of student life, to begin the process of making the Atheists and Agnostics Society an official student organization on campus. The request was denied because of Baylor’s policy, Oliver said.
Baylor’s Student Policies and Procedure states: “The recognition of a student organization represents University endorsement and approval of the goals and purposes of that organization as being consistent with and in support of the goals and mission of Baylor University.”
Oliver said he believes an atheist group would not be consistent with Baylor’s goal.
The mission of Baylor apparently being to stifle any contrarian voice.
I went (and will one day return) to grad school at DePaul University just outside Chicago. It’s also a private religious institution. I haven’t have time to start an atheist group in my brief time there so far, but I don’t anticipate there would be much resistance. The school has been pretty open to non-Catholic voices in my time there.
Justin has the right idea. Keep raising the question. Draw attention to it. Even if the school keeps saying no, you succeed in making them look hypocritical and foolish. All you’re asking for is the opportunity to meet and converse. It’s not asking a lot.
[tags]atheist, atheism, The Lariat[/tags]