I often take both ear buds out of my head and walk through campus with my chin up so I can keep my eyes out for an evangelist on campus. Just like Ms. Madison Marcy related in her Collegian column on April 5th, titled “Evangelism on campus is harmful to non-Christian students,” I too used to avoid the evangelist missionaries that were sure to stop me on my way to class. However, in my last three semesters my interest in religion has inspired me to talk to these people.
The thesis of Ms. Marcy’s column was that the presence of members of Grace Christian Church on campus has been harmful to non-Christian students. I disagree. As an atheist myself I have found talking with them to be insightful and hilarious. One missionary told me that Jesus told her that I had a heart condition when I was a child. I couldn’t help but laugh, and hard, because her “insight” was far from true. Another told me that Jesus made one of her legs grow longer to fix her back problems. Needless to say, my astonishment overthrew my manners and I could not hold back the laughter.
Despite being constantly astonished at these people’s beliefs I enjoy talking with them and actually seek them out when I can, because doing so makes for 30 to 45 minutes of interesting and meaningful debate. I learn a lot from the Grace Christians and even if Marcy believes that they “give Christianity a bad name,” their opinions are still interesting to me and I love nothing more than to poke holes through them.
I’ve talked with many missionaries on campus, sometimes with two at once, and never have they said anything along the lines of what Marcy claims they have said. Marcy said in her column that the Grace Christian missionaries tell people that “they are going to hell or that they need to stop being gay.” She also wrote that they “have been known…to ridicule other religions/beliefs and have asked incredibly invasive questions.” Never once has a missionary said anything even as remotely as divisive to me as Marcy claims and I have found them to be mild and mannered. But, even if the Grace Christians did ridicule other religions, what is the problem with that?
Just as Marcy said we are all a part of a very diverse campus with a student body that represents all of the major and even some minor religious ideologies. As Marcy said “discussion about religion should be encouraged especially on a college campus,” because it promotes growth from those of us who are interested and understanding between those of us who disagree. Having the Grace Christians and other missionaries (there are others, I ran into some lutherans the other day) is not “problematic.” Instead it encourages a respectful clash of minds in which both parties come away with at least a better understanding of the other.
Every time that I talk with a missionary and answer their question, “what are your beliefs” with “I’m an atheist” I am ridiculed and judged by them. But their opinion of me doesn’t matter because I realize that they are neither wrong nor right about me, they are just speaking from their beliefs and mean me no harm. CSU should not become a campus where people shy away from criticism like this. It should be a campus on which everyone’s beliefs can be questioned and defended at the same time. If you don’t want to participate in such discussion then put your headphones in and let the missionaries scour the crowd for those of us who are willing to criticize and be criticized.
Rosemary Alyce Pineau
Junior studying English and nursing
Editor’s Note: The author is an employee of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. She holds the position of Chief of Copy.
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