The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics
The University of Missouri has an event called Summer Welcome where freshman and transfer students are welcomed to the university. Each day, students can walk around a large room that has been filled with many of the campus groups and organizations so that students can see if there are any they would like to join.
Last year, seven religious groups and SASHA decided to participate and the people in charge of Summer Welcome decided to put us all together. The Jewish and Muslim groups on campus decided not to participate, so all seven of the religious groups that did participate were Christian. SASHA was put directly in the middle of the Christian groups.
Summer Welcome runs four days a week for two months, so it’s fair to say that we all got to know each other pretty well. I made really good friends with an intern from the Baptist Student Union (BSU), a minister from the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), a member of the Navigators Ministry, and several members of the Chi Alpha Ministry. Throughout the school year, I attended several services hosted by the BSU and RUF, and spent time with everyone I met at Summer Welcome.
I was not sure how each Christian organization differentiated from each other, so I thought that each Christian group was a different “type”. I thought there was the fundamentalist Christian group, the conservative Christian group, the liberal Christian group, the pro-equal rights Christian group, the anti-homosexuality Christian group, and so on and so on. I was dead wrong.
There is a diversity of beliefs within every Christian group – those who view people that do not accept evolution to be essentially idiots, and those who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old. In one Christian organization, there is a girl who volunteered and worked for Obama’s 2008 campaign. There is another girl in the same Christian organization who views Obama as a Muslim socialist destroying America.
Gay marriage is another issue that I have found divides the Christian ministries on campus. From my personal experience, the majority of students are in support of it. However, there will always be members that can be found to be strongly against it. It’s interesting to see how these members interact with each other.
I asked a member of one of the Christian organizations who I happen to know is in favor of gay marriage if their ministry has ever worked with the LGBTQ center at our school. They answered no, and most likely never would. He explained that he personally and even the majority of that ministry would have no problem with it, but there would be people who would raise objections and it would not be worth the hassle, fear of dividing the ministry and starting arguments between members.
The lessons I have learned from all of this are that it’s true never to judge a book by its cover, a few rotten apples can ruin an organization from attempting to move forward, and that politics play a part in most organizations and the Christian ministries are no exception.
Jeremy Locke is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s in biology. He is currently taking a year off from school and plans to attend graduate school in the field of evolutionary biology.