There’s a time and a place for religion in college
October 3, 2013
Filed under Guest Viewpoints
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Religion is an unavoidable subject on a college campus. Even when that class discussion is over and you think you’ve escaped unscathed, trying to walk through campus without being affronted by people with giant signs screaming about the wrath of God can be difficult on some days during the semester.
It is impossible to say that religion does not have a place on campus. After all, it is an important aspect in a multitude of disciplines and cannot be ignored. However, the way religion is approached is incredibly important.
The approach to religion in the classroom must be tactful and appropriate. Certain courses require discussions that include religious teachings and histories.
It is impossible to talk about the history of the Middle East without mentioning the biblical history that may parallel it. The history of Greece or Rome is not the same without acknowledgement of their polytheistic traditions.
When religious aspects of different studies pop up inside the classroom, approaching them objectively is of utmost importance.
This objectivity allows those who subscribe to various religions to use their knowledge and understanding to participate in discussions without offending those who subscribe to different religious denominations or those who do not subscribe at all.
It is difficult to be objective about religion, especially when it permeates classrooms, personal lives and even politics — much to our forefathers’ dismay.
Think first before talking. If what is about to come out of your mouth may offend somebody in some way, consider not saying it all.
Being the victim of religious bigotry is not a place anybody wants to be in and can lead to a bias against those who are particularly devout, which is not fair.
Not all devout people are bigots. Those who actually listen to the teachings of their religions are kind to others and understanding of their different beliefs.
It is a breath of fresh air to hear news of the new Pope explaining that it is more important to be a good person than to adhere to certain religious beliefs. Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists can be friends and still hold different beliefs.
Yet, all of the religions seen on campus are not always in a classroom setting. Sometimes there are people shoving Bibles in your hands or exulting rhetoric outside the library.
While I respect their free speech, they do not require a place on campus like respectful and educational religious discussions do.
Standing with signs and answering willing inquisitors, something the atheist group on campus does, is a respectful way to share beliefs.
Handing out Bibles to those who come up and ask or carrying signs that express positive religious values is acceptable.
Assaulting students with opinions and values that they do not consent to is unacceptable and gives a bad name to the respectful religious members of the community.
Religion is an important aspect on campus within in the classroom. Outside the classroom, however, it is not always appropriate and should be kept to a minimum — especially when it is pushed on people unwillingly.
There is a time and place for everything, particularly religion.