O’Donnell is a Secondary Education major and can be contacted at email@example.com
“If you were to die tomorrow, how sure are you that you would go to Heaven?” The first time a member of Campus Fellowship asked me this, I had a response involving my desire to effect positive change in the world and my hesitancy to believe in a loving God who damns people for eternity. The next ten times or so I was asked, however, I started to respond with sarcastic remarks. For instance, a list of reasons I thought Hell would be more fun or an estimated amount of the day I spent sinning. According to the Bible, it’s a pretty high percent of my day, by the way. It’s mainly my affinity for swearing and a lack of interest in stoning people that does it.
Ask nearly any student at Drake and they can tell you about a friend who was sucked in or about being a “project” for well meaning and slightly creepy conversion tactics of Campus Fellowship. The way some people talk about weather, Drake students talk about being preyed upon by what we clearly deem a religious cult. Judging from the ferocity of the conversations we have, Campus Fellowship regularly practices bloodletting rituals and human sacrifice in the middle of Helmick Commons.
I am well aware of the accusations against Campus Fellowship by the rest of campus, and my goal isn’t to defend any of these issues. Yes, at Alive a few weeks ago they discussed how people have become too tolerant of immorality (read: having the sex, voting the democrat or being the gay). Clearly someone should calmly explain that Jesus was pretty good at the whole “love everybody” thing.
Despite the fact that some of Drake’s brightest, most compassionate women are in CF, women aren’t allowed to be Bible study leaders (because, you know, Eve couldn’t lead, so…). Obviously we should probably have moved past the Dark Ages and into the era with Title IX and votes for women. We need to work on that.
Yes, of course it’s super awkward when someone you’ve just met corners you and tells you that you’re going to Hell. Not everyone is blessed with the whole “tact” thing. Let’s move on.
But reading between the lines of our very valid concerns with CF, it seems like we feel frustrated that they judge us and make assumptions about our lives and beliefs. I used to make sarcastic responses to the heaven question because I felt they didn’t care about my answer enough to listen to or consider it. If they won’t listen to me, the 10-year-old in my head reasons, I just won’t listen to them. We assume all members are clones and judge them as holding the exact same beliefs. On the whole, we’ve somehow decided that the best way to deal with perceived closed-mindedness is by being closed-minded.
Here’s a to do list: stop calling them a cult; don’t call them “Alivers”; stop blaming religious intolerance on them, because in doing so, we ourselves are becoming intolerant; when they ask how sure I am about Heaven, engage them in a conversation about it rather than being a sarcastic jerk.
There were chalked Bible verses around campus this week. None of them said that someone was going to eat our babies or anything else even remotely offensive. With all due respect to whoever chalked sarcastic responses, is it really such an infringement on your walking space that you can’t let them share God’s love? If it had been another group on campus using quotes from the Koran, would we have done the same thing? Religious dialogue on Drake’s campus is left wanting so much of the time, and we feel compelled to shut down CF every time we hear their name or sense their Evangelical spirit on campus. But here’s the best kept secret at Drake:
Some of the kindest, smartest, most compassionate, critically thinking Drake students go to Alive each week.
Those chalked versus were written by a passionate group of individuals who care deeply about something and ask the big questions that sometimes, the rest of us are scared to. Thei incite conversation in a way no one else on campus does. There are radical people in every group on campus, but truly, most people in CF won’t jump you and start sharing their testimony the moment they spot you across Hubbell. Do you know what they might do? Start a normal conversation. Remarkable.
How can we possibly live up to the Drake mission statement and its claim of living “meaningful personal lives” if we aren’t even willing to hold a discussion with someone who believes differently from ourselves? We alienate so many of these students, making CF into this terrifying “other,” but really, they give us an opportunity to be people accepting of different perspectives. Whether you agree with them or not, they are people who are trying to find meaning in life. And really, who am I to say they’re wrong?