Eric Fromm is the student body president at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon.
And last week, he publicly outed himself as an atheist:
I was an atheist long before I came to NCU. I was baptized Lutheran, and raised Methodist, but as time went on I slowly came to the conclusion that God wasn’t real. For me, church was an empty ritual that I participated in so I could see friends, scripture was largely mythological, and Jesus was a great moral teacher, but he wasn’t God.
Yes, yes, I know: What about the obvious question?
Now you may ask, “Well, if you’re not a Christian, why did you come to NCU?” Truth be told, I came to NCU not because of its religious affiliations, but because it had a solid communications program. I knew that the school catered to Christian thinking, so before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement. No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.
Eric isn’t the first atheist to attend a Christian school. He isn’t even the first atheist to be student body president at a Christian school — hello, Evan Clark! — but he may be the first to come out after being elected in that position.
Surprisingly, even the administration doesn’t seem to have a problem with it:
Michael Fuller, the university’s vice president for enrollment and student development, said he’s known about Fromm’s views for years and didn’t question his election as student body president.
“He’s a man of very high character and respect,” Fuller said of Fromm. “He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do.”
I don’t doubt that Eric can do the job he was elected to do… but… but… is he even allowed to be at the school?!
Turns out he is. According to the school’s page of Frequently Asked Questions:
We welcome students who have no faith commitment or are from other faith commitments. NCU is not a ‘church’, nor do we require students to be Christians or to subscribe to any faith statement. At the same time, all students should be prepared to be exposed daily to a Christian world-view and to be encouraged to a Christian faith commitment. As a community, we are committed to living out our middle name.
In that case, more power to him!
Eric says that the article has resulted in almost all positive feedback:
“I knew friends would be accepting, but I didn’t expect as much support” and positive feedback from across the campus, he said. Some students have even identified with his perspective, he said.
“For the past couple years, I thought I was the only one,” he said.
Seriously, what an inspiration. Coming out is hard enough at a secular school, but to do it at a Christian school when you’ve already garnered a certain level of respect from the other students? That takes guts.
Eric deserves a lot of respect for coming out as he did. He may even help other students at the school find the courage they need to do it themselves.