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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus evangelists’ tactics off-putting

    From noon to mid-afternoon, it’s best to avoid the UA Mall at all costs, at least if you plan on getting to class on time. If you’re unable to find an alternate route, walk through the student union and you’ll also get a break from the scorching sun. Even as you quicken your pace when you’re forced to move past the flock of students waving fliers in your direction, there are other advertisers looking to interrupt your day ahead.

    Though upperclassmen and sophomores know how to effectively stay away from the countless solicitors on the UA Mall, timid, vulnerable freshmen are still at risk of being accosted by religious recruiters.

    There are many different organizations that love meeting and talking to people on the UA Mall during the week, but religious representatives often lurk around campus on weekends as well, surreptitiously loitering around the Highland dorms until someone walks by.

    While a passerby can easily just walk away when asked to have a religious discussion, many are too polite to decline the offer, particularly freshmen. Even though there are many clubs that go out of their way to interrupt students’ days to chat, it seems morally wrong for religious groups to scatter throughout campus to entice students into thinking a certain way.

    It’s nice knowing what religious institutions are available near the UA, but students can seek these out on their own if they truly want to. It took less than a minute for me to find all the information I needed about the Catholic Newman Center on campus during my first year here. I looked forward to attending Sunday mass because I was never pressured to be there or hassled by a church member on the Mall.

    We all know what’s out there and are capable of deciding what’s right for ourselves, so why is it necessary for religious representatives to prey upon us while we’re on our way to class or carrying on conversations with friends?

    In most circumstances, these recruiters only tap the shoulders of walkers, but I was once approached while reading a novel on a campus bench. Even though I’m very religious, I usually say “”no thanks”” to these people because I don’t agree with proselytizing, but cornered by two women while lost in my book, I felt ambushed and reluctantly agreed to listen to one of the evangelists speak for a minute. After 10 minutes of hearing about the tragic and horrible events of her life that led her to be “”saved,”” without once being asked for my input on religion at all whatsoever, I glanced back down at my novel, unsure if the young woman wanted me to join her church or to be her therapist. Some recruiters not only exploit the safe space of a college campus, but interact with students they hope to change in strange, inappropriate ways.

    On another, more offensive occasion, an evangelist asked me how I thought people gain entrance into Heaven. As soon as I finished explaining my thoughts, she audaciously informed me that I was completely incorrect. It’s reasonable to spread faith in an innocuous manner (even though this isn’t really the case here), but it is unreasonable for another person to blatantly tell others that their beliefs are wrong. If anything, it is wrong of proselytizers to disrespect random UA students for having different beliefs.

    With the exception of the circumstances above, most religious recruiters on college campuses appear to have obvious intentions in mind: to help students find a suitable place of worship. They act like they want to help a confused student by referring them to their congregation, but their reasoning seems ambiguous. Do they really care about the well-being of a lost, lonely freshman seeking a substantial connection to the UA and a higher power to turn to, or do they just want to feel better about themselves for single-handedly obtaining another member to their institution? A combination of both seems to drive the recruiters, but they aren’t helpful to others if the latter option holds more weight to them. In that case, the troubled freshman is more alone than he initially thought he was.

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