Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Acceptance Of College Clubs

Hrafnkell left a comment on my last post regarding religious clubs on college campuses and said "this is just another reason for Evangelicals to hate colleges as corrupting influences on their childrens' lives." Unfortunately, I've noticed this can be true. People have their opinions of what should and should not be presented to their children - even though at this point they are legally adults. This is a time where (most) teens are on their own and away from their parents for the first time. Parents have less control over what is going on in their children's lives and are trying to find ways to regain that control.

Most clubs can be formed fairly quick, but when it comes to religious clubs it seems to be more difficult. It seems to be difficult to get membership started, and I wonder if it has to do with people's perception of acceptance. Are they going to be accepted on campus and in the larger community? Are their people that oppose what they are trying to do? Is there enough interest? In the case of a new Pagan club on a campus, I am not only talking about interest as in the number of members. I think that perceived interest (whether people will be curious enough to go to a meeting) has a lot to do with whether or not a particular 'evangelical' group will protest a new club such as this.

Another factor that I think influences why clubs are protested has to do with what you believe college is about. To be honest, I don't think an undergraduate degree is about getting an education. I've noticed it's more about taking in information and learning to decide what is going to be done with that information. I think that is why many 'evangelicals' are protesting many different clubs on college campuses - they are worried that these newly minted adults are going to make choices that are not "right" because of all the available choices. It scares some people to realize that older teens are "experimenting" with different ideas/lifestyles during college.

I do wonder how the new Pagan club will be perceived on campus and if there will be any retaliation from students and the community and what form it will take.


Bernulf said...

I look at this as another form of shrinking outward, when parents start protesting student clubs simply because they are convinced their kids (who are by that point adults, as you point out) might be gaining exposure to life in all its flavors and varieties.

Where do people learn good judgement, when there is nothing left from which to judge?

Hrafnkell said...

Yeah, excellent point, Bjorn. And absolutely, Sjourner. I agree completely with your reasons why evangelicals fear college. The reason I made that comment was that just the other day I saw this exact charge made by a Right Wing Christian, James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Colleges are breeding grounds for moral corruption, he says, and among other things, teach homosexual behavior.

soleclaw said...

(sorry so lengthy!)

I agree with both commentors. A couple years ago my college went through a similar experience. There was a new Pagan group on campus called Wiccan Moon (a much fluffier name than "Pagan Alliance"!) and they probably only had about 10 members.

At that time I was just becoming interested in Paganism and never attended a meeting, as you said, mostly for fear I would be persecuted by the Christian majority. It takes guts to stand up and take part in the unpopular minority, and I applaud you for your initiative to become involved in your group.

Hrafnkell, James Dobson's remark is appaling to me. I think a non-Christian (or less tight-assed Christian) would rephrase his quote to be something more like "Colleges are gardens of moral acception, and among other things teach acceptance of homosexuality."

Because isn't that what the Bible folks are afraid of most? That Christians and non-Christians alike will begin to see that homosexual people (and others) are not evil.

I feel like people like Mr. Dobson take such strong stands against such issues because they are labeled as sins in the Bible. I've met so many Christians who have said that to doubt anything in the Bible is to be a weaker Christian, less worthy of God's love. Their system of taking the Bible for absolute truth is flawed, and will ultimately lead our country or world into another useless religious war.

Because as Sojourner points out frequently, we fight the small battles of war every day.

Nio said...

I don't think an undergraduate degree is about getting an education.

I agree. I thing an undergraduate degree is indoctrination into the working world: too much work in too little time to appease a control freak professor who demands obedience and conformity. But I've said that all before.

Christians who fear college campuses have some valid points, though (and I can't believe I just said that). Ignoring the homosexual comments, colleges are a bedlam of drunken unsafe sex. While there is concern for such negative behavior, I think the concern is misplaced. Young adults use college as an outlet for the bad behavior they weren't allowed to exhibit at home. It's a free for all because there are no limits and no real punishment for breaking the rules (legal or collegiate).

Hrafnkell said...

In this regard I wanted to bring to attention a new site by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called United on Campus:
AU says: With AU's recently launched student Web site, United on Campus, students now have a one-stop location for updates on relevant student church-state issues, access to nationally renowned speakers and the ability to utilize resources such as program ideas and action alerts. Constantly updated, the website serves as the prime online tool for AU's Youth & Campus Outreach program. All of AU's aligned and associated student groups are listed, and a Campus Organizing Manual is provided for student leaders wishing to bring church-state separation issues to the forefront on their campuses.

Sojourner said...

Thanks everyone for their comments. You all make great points.

Thanks for the link, Hrafnkell. I will check it out.

Penguin said...

You hit the spiritual nail on the head with It scares some people to realize that older teens are "experimenting" with different ideas/lifestyles during college.
I'd love to start a Pagan "club" here. Unfortunately, the more conservative people have the money in this town and, thus, the power. I'm sure I'd be shut down in a NY minute!