Jesus Camp and Me

This year I will be turning twenty years old. A decade ago, half my life ago, I attended a camp called Camp Geneva in Holland, Michigan. This was not an evangelical camp, it was defined only as a ‘Christian Camp’, and indicated no denomination. I was lucky not to be brought up in a more disturbing form of Christianity, as my parents are Lutheran and Catholic (as they would describe it, the only difference is whether communion is symbolic or literal). Other than that, Catholicism is more ritualized and formal, Lutherans eat a larger variety of food after church, and so forth, both pretty chill.

The children in that film, “Jesus Camp”, are within just a few years of my age. They are brought up in a Christianity I would never describe as chill or calm. One of the focus children, Levi, is the same age as me. Some of these children are growing up taught to ignore the world around them for the sake of making it to an unobserved world besides this. Like misguided intergalactic salesmen they grow up trying to sign people’s lives into the cost of a ticket to a world no one has ever seen. These children experience a camp at which they cry every night and are told how flawed they are, for what they may not even know. These children are manipulated to ‘speak in tongues’, pound the ground, and move violently to impulses. They are told what to think about things entirely outside of their church and encouraged to have their lives overpowered by the one force of this mass of humans and pressures.

However, this camp experience, though mostly a recreational time, had some aspects which stick out chillingly from the background of archery attempts, capture the flag, and camp store ice cream. No worries, no one there spoke in tongues as they did in the film, nor did anyone fall on their knees and cry from what I can remember. But there were skits and talks on stage every evening and one of them I remember still as it caused me more trauma than just about any other experience I had in the churches and church functions I attended in childhood.  For this reason it’s a story I tell often when the subjects of indoctrination and fear arise.

One night we sat in our seats in the darkened auditorium/chapel late after dinner. On the stage were three yardsticks laid end to end. The speaker started to describe to us the scene. The yardsticks showed a lifetime and on the left a man in a red body suit and velvet horns took the stage. To the right, one in sandals and a white robe. As different councilors of ours entered, they walked downstage on the line of the yardsticks with the two men heckling them for attention. The speaker described the personal struggles of each character.

When a walker took the hand of the red velvet man, he lead them a few gentle steps from the yardstick while the robed fellow made anguished faces and grasped across the line for them until they were thrown violently to the ground where they lay. On the Jesus side of the sticks, the person would be lead to the back and side and helped into a kneeling prayer position. The devil would throw up his hands in frustration. All of this well and good, I contemplated how much more comfortable the people playing sinners must have been, not having to kneel.

The last walker turned back and forth between the two sides, inching slowly along the line. He reached the end of the line and stood, looking out for a moment. He turned left and right and decided to face to the Jesus side. ‘Oh good,’ we all thought, ‘no one else thrown to the ground.’ But the speaker informed us this was not so. The walker had run out of time, he said, and, though the walker faced the robed man, the scarlet clad actor grabbed him from behind and flung him brutally down onto the stage. The speaker told us how he’d waited too long to decide, and was cast down.

I have a few big problems with this. One, I simply don’t believe ‘educating’ children based on fear is proper. Children should be nurtured, not emotionally tortured and told they are individually worthless and only achieve worth through adopting given dogmas. Children should not be told their lives mean so little and there is something bigger than life. Children should be nurtured and taught what can be known with evidence, not what is assumed due to tradition. Two, the time-line was scrunched up and jumbled by the statements of the speaker that you could die that very night and, if you did, where would you be? These children have been told of their inherent undeservedness of a good end for ten to twelve years. These children have been told that you’re sinning even if you don’t know it. My prayers as a child only taught me to apologize and resign to waiting for things instead of trying for what I wanted. I apologized every night to some horrible figure who wanted me to be sorrowful for what I didn’t know I had done, but must certainly have done, due to my inherent flaws. I do not think it’s a healthy relationship to lay in bed apologizing and then feel so unsafe one is compelled to pretend to fall asleep so that the figure is still paying attention to them. I did this near every night. I was terrified as a child of dying and so I’d pray I wouldn’t die during the night and, just in case, pretend to fall asleep without ‘hanging up’ with a sign of the cross. No Amens for me as a child, it was ‘please don’t let me die tonight’ ‘please don’t have me die tonight’ and ‘I’ll go to sleep while you’re still watching close, just in case.’

Imagine this, if you would, as a human romantic relationship. What would you tell me, the young woman who I am, if I told you that every night I came home to my angry boyfriend, not sure what was wrong but knowing it must have been something I had done? If I told you that I would quietly whisper apologies into his ear and then ask him not to hurt me for it, not to let anyone hurt me, and accepted him as the protection I had against ills and fell asleep in his arms, gently squeezing to remind myself he was protecting me. If he never told me what was wrong but there was always something, would you tell me I should be apologizing? Would you tell me it was healthy to fall asleep in his arms and feel that he, my fear, was my safety? It doesn’t sound healthy to me.

I still apologize for nearly anything, though I’m getting better at it. I learned from my Christian upbringing to feel truly and deeply miserable whenever anyone is upset around me, and to accept that I’m not doing anything to help and, even if I want to help, am probably making it worse. Just as miserable as if I have really done something bad. I am very quick to apologize when I have done something bad. I learned how faulted I necessarily was, being human, in this way. And that is a grossly inappropriate thing to do to a child. Children should be taught to be accountable for what they have and have not done. Children should be proud of their strengths and unashamed of their flaws. Children’s flaws should not be exaggerated.

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Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores

Legal Adviser for this post: Christjahn. Who Googled all the things I wanted to double-check and laughed when I drafted in strict judgments before I took them back out.

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By this point, we’ve probably all heard about the ruling of 30 June 2014, that “closely held” companies have some freedom to deny  insurance coverage of health care to their employees due to the religious beliefs of the company’s owner(s) superimposed upon the company as a whole.

It would probably be helpful to define what a “closely held” company really is:
Closely HeldOwned by the founder(s) of the company (meaning they have over 50% of the stocks in the company. These stocks are limited in number so that you can only get the majority of them by someone else selling their share to you.)
(Cornell Law School Definition)
OR
The majority of the stocks are owned by less than five individuals (IRS definition)

So the definitions disagree somewhat, which is bothersome, but ultimately nothing employee owned or owned in a big spread out stock way gets to be “closely held,” so this couldn’t be applied by HyVee, for example. This privilege was granted under the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (1993), which only occurs when the behavior of the religious person is not strictly illegal (see Employment Division v. Smith). [This act eerily instituted after marital rape became illegal, despite large religious protest…. twilight zone music and affirmation that this is, indeed, a joke].

The interesting things in this case are, however, not the legal definitions and precedent acts leading to the decision. More intriguing are the religious values of the corporation in stock investments, the medical science viability required to pass a ruling on medical exemptions, what kinds of things could be exempt from coverage by other religious groups, and the granting of person-hood to corporations.

 

As to the religious values of Hobby Lobby when applied to profits from their investments, I recommend this article by Forbes’ contributor, Rick Ungar (click the underlined words for the article). He does not hold back with his opinions, something for which I admire his writing but I will warn that if you are easily offended and deny the purportedly hypocritical actions of Hobby Lobby owners, you likely won’t enjoy the read. In short, just after starting their case which ended at the end of this June, the company added substantial stocks to its portfolios in companies who produce IUDs, “Plan-B” contraception, and drugs for abortions. One can easily see how, as almost all other companies are required to cover these services in their insurance, this could be a very successful stock. But, wouldn’t someone morally opposed to paying for contraception also be morally opposed to profiting from its sale?

Hobby Lobby has avoided covering two types IUDs and any “Plan B” / “Morning After” pills which prevent implantation of a zygote into the uterine lining (all that bloody nutritious tissue that females shed on a lunar cycle) because they claim that this is a type of abortion. However, they are not morally opposed to preemptive birth controls which thicken cervical mucus to make the passage harder for spermatozoa and thin the uterine lining to prevent implantation of a zygote into the uterine lining (all that . . . wait. I’ve said this before. Oh, this is silly, it would seem that the things they are morally opposed to and the things they are not morally opposed to do the same thing. Well, that’s funny. So, the pre-sex-ed understanding of ‘where babies come from’ by corporate officials is more important in law than medical understanding. Okay, now it all makes sense. Silly me, do disregard all of that, I was obviously too confident in Supreme Court official’s value of science over opinions.

What else could be exempt by this ruling, besides birth control? Well, not blood transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are morally opposed to blood transfusions but they’ve decided that these exemptions are not to effect people’s health in extreme things like cases of blood needed, but in tiny little non-life-effecting things like pregnancy, it’s okay. So the supreme court gets to decide which religiously determined medical morals are valid and which are silly. Perfect, so that’s all taken care of.

I will now admit that I am a scientist, not a lawyer or professional philosopher, so I will not delve into the latest of the stated points deeply. However, one has probably gathered that I would prefer to grant person-hood to entities with united conscious abilities (though I’m sure individuals with DID would make this definition problematic and more philosophical decisions on what it is to be a person would have to be discussed and then invoked) and not gatherings of individuals. The question is raised, can a person be composed of a multitude of persons? If so, which is more of a person, the collective or the individual?

Why Are Atheists So Angry – Book Review

I have recently read a book by a prominent atheist blogger and now must blog it, for circular happenstances’ sake, if naught else. The book is Why are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 things that piss off the godless, by Greta Christina. I’m sorry that I can’t underline that, I only have italicizing and bold capacities. The book is a look at the problems that religion bring up in a society. For to start, there is a list of ninety-nine terrible things to infuriate the reader, from the subjugation of women in religions to deaths by preventable diseases in faith healing cases and all sorts of similar things.

Christina continues to discuss why she believes various forms of religious and spiritual belief are included in the problematic grouping, beyond the strictest and most oppressive groups around. She speaks about moderate religion, progressive religion, the groups who try to accept all religions as part of one big set of ideas on the god(s) they believe in, and various spiritualists, including all of them in the problem group primarily for the reason that unjustified faiths and beliefs make a person more and more willing to accept what people tell them without question.

This volume is a quick read and, though certainly one that will make you angry, it presents concisely a lot of the objections and criticisms to/of religion one hears from the secular side. For religious readers, it presents a good set of thoughts on why people from ‘moderate’ or unorganized groups ought to consider their thoughts on exemption from the harmful group which they may perceive they deserve. For atheists, it wraps up with a large set of resources as well as providing tips on talking to religious folks and what to or not to expect from these discussions.

Greta Christina visited Iowa State this past semester, and, though she has a talk by the same title as this book, she discussed What the Atheist Movement can learn from the LGBT movement. I would recommend attending a talk if one occurs near you, and the book is worth the read.

Short Answers for Tom Short

For those unfamiliar with him, Tom Short is a travelling preacher who tends to visit our campus once a year, and stay for about a week. You can get a sense of the kind of thing he preaches by reading his “Where I Stand” page.

Last Week, Tom Short posted 25 24 questions for atheists in honor of National Ask an Atheist Day. These questions aren’t particularly profound or interesting by themselves, but they do deserve a response, and it’s an excellent opportunity to clarify some common misconceptions.

A disclaimer before I begin: I do not, and cannot, claim to speak for all atheists, or even all contributors to this blog, especially on matters of ethics and morality. I should also warn that these are as short as I could make them, but no shorter.

With that out of the way, let’s begin:

1. How could Nobody + Nothing = Everything?

No one is claiming that. You may be thinking of the Big Bang Theory, which states that the universe exploded out of a singularity, which is all matter, energy, laws of nature, and the very fabric of spacetime, compressed to a single point.

I’m not sure how you got from “absolutely everything” to “nobody + nothing.”

My own position is that I don’t know enough about the origin of the universe to have a coherent idea. Since atheism is the lack of a position, there is no burden on the atheist to explain the origin of the Universe. However, if you want to posit a god, there’s a burden on you to explain how it was done — and, for that matter, where that god came from.

2. Where did life come from? Do you honestly believe that non-living matter could produce life?

I don’t know where life came from. They’re working on it. However, from what I’ve seen, the theories of abiogenesis seem viable.

Do you honestly believe that this is so much more unbelievable than the revelation that matter and energy are interchangeable, and that there is enough energy in a walnut to destroy the world?

3. Do you believe Chaos + Time = Order?

You’ll need to define these terms much more precisely if you want a meaningful answer. What do you mean by “chaos”? It certainly seems that early stages of the Universe, and early stages of life, were more “ordered” in a sense — for instance, a cloud of lipid bubbles in the ocean is certainly more uniform than the diversity of life that exists today.

4. Why do human beings universally believe in some sort of god and an afterlife?

These are two separate questions. Not all humans who believe in a god believe in an afterlife, and vice versa.

Why do people believe in gods? The most likely explanation seems to be hyperactive agent detection. Consider our ancestors on the savannah. Those who don’t see a tiger when there is one get eaten. Those who see a tiger when there isn’t one are paranoid, but survive to reproduce. We’re the descendants of survivors — we see tigers when they aren’t there, but we’re alive.

Why do people believe in an afterlife? That’s a lot simpler: We don’t want to die. (Granted, the actual invention of the afterlife wouldn’t have been in a modern hospital, but it certainly could have been something like this.)

5. Do you believe in moral absolutes? If yes, where did they come from? If no, why was Hitler wrong?

Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.

That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics.

So, why is Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong.

Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.

6. Why do all humans seek to love and be loved — especially when true love is often so self-sacrificial?

What kind of love are you talking about?

Romantic love is easy to explain — the need to reproduce and to care for those offspring. Love for your extended family would be because of kin selection — it helps if genes like yours survive.

7. Why does it bother you when you see another person — say some starving kid in Africa that you will never know — suffering or being oppressed?

Why does it bother me personally? Because I have a deep, visceral reaction to suffering, especially human suffering. I may never know that kid, but I wouldn’t wish what they’re going through on anyone. I don’t know that my basic human empathy towards another human needs a deeper justification than that.

It also bothers me in a rational sense, because I know that suffering and oppression tend to lead to more suffering and oppression. The children of the oppressed can easily become the oppressor. On the other hand, that suffering child is still human, still basically capable of the same things I am, given the opportunity.

8. Where did the laws of mathematics and science come from?

Humans.

A trivial example: Gravity is an inherent property of reality. The law of gravity is our description of it. I would argue that while reality is itself objective, it is somewhat subjective how we divide it into properties. For instance, classical mechanics has concepts of work and energy which are entirely artificial and directly derived from Newton’s three laws.

Mathematics is similar — we invented the laws of mathematics to describe how the universe actually works. Take consistency, or the insistence that P=P is true and P=¬P is false: We insist that a thing is what it is, and isn’t what it isn’t, because in the reality we find ourselves in, things never are what they aren’t. Yet paraconsistent logic exists, and may even be useful, it just doesn’t generally describe reality.

If you want to know why reality is the way it is, there are two problems with this question: First, do we really know that it could have been different? And second, why is God the way he is? If God was just the tiniest bit less loving, or the tiniest bit more jealous, we might not exist today, right?

9. Does it bother you at all that the worst atrocities in history have been committed by atheists?

It might, if it were true. I’m not convinced it is.

What would bother me is if there were a causal link between the two. You can’t get from “There probably isn’t a god” to “I should kill five million Jews,” and you certainly agreed with me when we spoke that Hitler wasn’t an atheist at all.

10. What would you accept to be legitimate evidence for the existence of God? What type of “proof” are you looking for?

That’s your job. I’m a bit surprised you asked a question like this, when you asked for short answers.

However, I can give examples of things which would certainly make me take a second look:

  • The stars rearrange themselves in the sky to display some sort of message, in an event visible by everyone everywhere in the world that it’s night.
  • Jesus just shows up, physically, and gives me the same evidence Thomas had — let me touch him, and let me see him float.
  • Someone finally claims the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge, and they do so using something directly related to their faith.

For a more complete list — not all of which would instantly convert me, but all of which are a good start — I would recommend this two-part series on YouTube: Part 1 Part 2

11. If you were to conclude there is a God and Jesus Christ is, in fact, the Son of God, how would your life need to change?

I would spend a lot more time investigating his life and his message. That’s all I can promise.

Right now, when I read the Bible, I see a petty, vengeful, jealous god who makes the Greek gods look like saints. I’d need a lot of questions answered before I decided to actually follow Jesus and God.

Before you rush to reply, consider: These are questions for after I’m convinced there’s a real possibility that there is actually a God. Many people I talk to get it the other way around, and as much fun as it is listening to someone try to justify God’s genocide, it’s beside the point. First prove he exists, then we can argue about whether he’s good.

12. Have you ever personally sought for God and, if so, how did you do it?

In all sorts of ways, and there is no way this can possibly be a short answer.

I sought God as a child — I built my own little Ark of the Covenant and my own Ten Commandments, and put them in my room. I didn’t so much pray as talk to God, and sometimes I imagined I heard answers.

I was Bar-Mitzvah’d, and while I remember a few difficult-to-learn bits of Hebrew, I don’t remember the particular Torah passage I read and explained.

As a young adult, I meditated, which I felt brought me closer to God and the divine. I suppose I prayed often, but unconventionally — I tried to keep it to the point, as I would imagine God would like to hear. Over a meal, I would just say “Thanks,” and hold onto that feeling of gratitude for a moment, imagining that God wanted my actual gratitude, not ritual words of praise recited so often they’re rendered meaningless to me.

I remember visiting the synagogue Frank Lloyd Wright designed, and saying to my father, “I think that God is here, and that this is one of his favorite places.” It was empty at the time, especially the giant upper sanctuary, which was normally closed because the roof was starting to fail, but I felt he was there.

I remember visiting a funeral of a friend of my father’s, and while it wasn’t God directly, I felt a sudden wave of sadness and love wash over me as soon as I stepped into the church. It was as if the entire place was filled with the love people had for this man, and I wished I had known him.

When I lost my faith, but still held onto the possibility, I often searched for an appropriate blessing, something like, “I wish you well, whatever form that may take, I’m not attached to who or what blesses you, interpret it however you like.” The closest I came was “Namaste.”

I no longer actively seek God. I still seek truth, and I try to do that with reason, humility, and curiosity — the tools of science. But so far as I can tell, God is a dead end. There is so much else to know, and only one lifetime to know it in! Why waste time on God?

13. In the past, in what ways do you believe God hurt you or failed you?

I don’t believe he exists, so how can he have done any such things?

There was no traumatic moment when I expected God to do something, and he didn’t. There was only the moment when I realized I could no longer justify my own belief.

14. Can you name a person who is more admirable and worth emulating than Jesus Christ?

If we ignore the supernatural aspect, Norman Borlaug. Among many other awards, his Congressional Gold Medal is for saving the lives of over a billion people. Suppose Jesus did somehow cure disease, blindness, etc — how many lives did he save? (Again, if we’re ignoring the supernatural, we must also ignore those he saves from Hell.)

If we allow myths and stories, then I would choose Prometheus. Jesus died for your sins, yes, and by some accounts spent the next three days in Hell. Then he returned to Earth for a bit, before ascending to Heaven to rule the Universe. Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and gave it to mortals, and in return, he was chained to a rock and has his liver eaten out by an eagle once a day, to this very day.

15. What do you believe to be your purpose in life?

I believe there is no absolute purpose, so whatever purpose I have is mine to choose.

My purpose, then, is to contribute to the legacy I am born into — of scientists, philosophers, and curious minds; to contribute something, no matter how small, to the knowledge of mankind; to live with integrity and compassion; to be the kind of person I can be proud of.

16. What do you think about when you gaze up into the starry night or stand by the ocean and watch the waves come in?

By themselves? I tend not to think, so much as stand in awe…

When I watch the ocean, I think of my grandfather, who loved to sail, and of my other grandfather, who loved to fish. I think of going sailing, or bluefishing, or swimming…

When I look at the stars — at the real starry night sky, away from city lights — when I finally catch my breath, I mutter, my voice catching with the beauty, “A still more glorious dawn awaits…” and chills run down my spine.

17. What do you think happened to the body of Jesus?

I’m not convinced Jesus existed at all — there are enough people I respect on both sides of the debate. Supposing he existed, I don’t really know — I would guess he was buried, but maybe he was burned at Gehenna, maybe he was left in the desert to die, who knows?

18. Why do you think so few people agree with you?

Oh, quite a lot of people agree with me on quite a lot of things. We both agree Hitler was wrong, for example. Around 1.5 billion Muslims agree with me that Jesus did not die for my sins, and that he was never resurrected, and that he was not the son of God, though they are convinced that he existed, while I am not.

If you mean atheism specifically, I answered this in question 4, I thought.

19. How well do you know and get along with your earthly father? Would your father say that you respect him?

I imagine he would, but I wouldn’t presume. I certainly respect him. Both of my parents, in fact — why is this question about my father, and not my mother?

It isn’t just that my parents are the reason I exist, it’s that my parents are, likely as you read this, working hard — both of them — to make the money to put me and my brother through college. They both know my opinions on religion and God all too well — they can’t get me to shut up about them — yet when they see me doing something in line with the purpose I outlined above, something that should make them proud, they support me, even if they wish I had chosen a different path. My father is the one who is still religious, yet he is the one who first told me about AAS at Iowa State.

20. Does the number of famous atheists who died in despair and hopeless concern you? What is it like for you to live with no ultimate hope?

Why would you assume I have no ultimate hope? And why would fame be relevant? Does the number of famous preachers who were later caught in profoundly ironic scandal concern you? (Ted Haggard, Kent Hovind, etc.)

I have all kinds of hope, it just extends beyond my own ego. I have hope for humanity, hope for the rest of the world. And I have hope for myself, for the rest of my life.

But I have so much more than hope. I have integrity, determination, and passion. I wake up every day excited about what I know that day will be.

And I know from my elders that this is not a young person thing.

21. When was the last time you personally read the New Testament with an open mind — and, more importantly, with an open heart?

This is a loaded question. Whenever an atheist mentions having read the Bible, the assumption is that they didn’t have an “open heart” or an “open mind”, or that some lessons can only be understood with faith. In other words, “Unless you agree with my interpretation of the Bible, you must not have read it, or you must have read it wrong.”

I have never read the entire New Testament cover to cover. I did read one book, in high school — I think it was the book of John — and I read the two stories of Genesis. Since then, I’ve read bits and pieces, whatever seems relevant, often entire passages.

The fact is, unless it’s the word of God, it’s not a terribly good book. I still intend to read it at some point, because it does have a massive cultural impact, but it just isn’t that interesting on its own.

22. If there is a hell, do you think you will go there?

I have no idea.

At one point, I would have answered definitively, “No.” I believed, then, that any god judging my entire life, my entire being, with full knowledge of my point of view, would see my side of things.

If there is a good God, I don’t believe I will go to Hell, because I don’t believe a good God would allow Hell to exist. But I have no idea what sort of god might exist, and I certainly have no idea what sort of hell might exist.

If there is a Valhalla, do you think you will go there?

23. If there is a heaven where God reigns and is worshiped, would you want to go there?

That depends — see question 11. Right now, if it’s the god of the Bible, or the Heaven I hear about most often from religion, I would not want to go there. I would not want to spend an eternity with the kind of being who allows babies to die in fires, who deliberately kills or orders the deaths of entire civilizations, and who has such a fragile ego as to demand eternal worship.

If there actually is such a thing as a good God and a Heaven in which he reigns, I imagine I would like to go there, though I’d still like to know more about that Heaven before making a decision.

24. If you are wrong, would you want to know it?

Absolutely. That is what learning is: Finding out when you’re wrong.

Oddly, Tom, your answer to this question was unequivocably “No.” You said, “If this is a delusion, don’t save me from it!” If you’re not willing to be proven wrong, how can we have an honest conversation? How can you ever learn the truth when you believe you have absolute truth, and by your own admission, you’re willing to hold onto that belief whether or not it’s true?

Why ask questions, if you’re already prepared to ignore the answers?

But that’s not me, not ever. AronRa said it best: “I would much rather be proven wrong than forever be wrong.”

Student proselytizing

The article Students move in faith appeared in the ISU Daily today, showing the Christian perspective of student proselytizing, taken to the extreme of 50+ students changing schools to start a new ministry. An article tomorrow will show the ethical and administrative perspectives.

What are your thoughts on the article, and on these questions?

    The full text of the article is reposted here for posterity because the ISU Daily search engine does not work well and we want to be sure that anyone who wants to read the article can find it.

    Continue reading

    Request to postpone vote on chapel bill

    Chapel

    At tonight’s GSB meeting (7pm in the MU Campanile Room), senators will consider a bill about the MU Chapel. I am concerned that they have not given enough consideration to all of the issues nor have they collected enough feedback from students (particularly students that are other than Christian or atheist) in order to make a sound decision on this issue. Therefore, I have requested that they postpone the vote until more information can be gathered. Some of these issues were brought up the Politics Hour show on KURE, which I was a part of (audio can be found at the host’s website). I hope you will attend the meeting and share your thoughts on these issues. Continue reading

    Memorial Union Chapel Feedback Request

    Update: The GSB University Affairs subcommittee has updated the legislation to include the recommendation of not removing the religious symbolism but instead allowing students to bring in their own religious symbols to put in the chapel. The first reading and discussion in front of all of GSB is tonight(Oct. 21st) at 7:30 in the campanile room.

    On Monday October 12th I was asked to contact GSB to inform them of my opinion on the issue of removing the religious symbols in the Memorial Union chapel and supporting the petition. I have included a portion of my letter below. I sent my letter to the the senators that represent me as well as the executive branch and directors of diversity and public relations. The few that responded were very thankful to hear a students input and many supported the change. The combination of the petition, coverage in the daily, and discussion on the topic caused one senator to introduce legislation that will direct GSB to either fully support or oppose the “renovation” of the Memorial Union Chapel. The legislation can be found at this link. This legislation will be discussed and student input is welcome at the open forum at the next GSB meeting on Wednesday, October 21st at 7pm. I encourage any interested members to attend this meeting and share you voice. If you are unable to, please find the time to contact your senators and the GSB University Affairs Committee leader Luke Rolling (lroling@iastate.edu). I am currently the only student that has contacted anyone in support of this issue and heard from Luke that their subcommittee my be biased but currently does not see a need for the change. I believe in order the removal of the dominant religious symbols to happen it will take more students like you to share your voice.

    Continue reading