Don’t think, just be

I have been working on a post about bacon and Christmas, but that is going to have to wait.  I have my undies in a bunch and need to vent a bit.  The bacon Christmas connection will have to come later this weekend…

Friday I got one of my regular emails from the American Humanist Association.  There was a brief story about their recent ad campaign to raise awareness about bigotry toward atheists.  The holiday season seems to heighten everyone’s sensitivities about this sort of stuff (which is interesting in and of itself).  Along with the story was a picture of the ad.  I found the ad to be thought provoking, so I thought it would be enlightening for our students to post a few copies around campus.

On our campus, all bulletin board posts need approval.  So, I went to get approval at the student affairs office, and was promptly denied!

Say what!  I asked why and the guy in charge said it had nothing to do with a student organization.  Alright, well, according to our University’s new Strategic Plan, one of our core values is Diversity.  Under the value of diversity it reads, “Promote the expression of differing opinions and beliefs.”  PROMOTE!  Either he didn’t get the memo or the Strategic plan is lip service.  It really does look good on paper.

Okay, maybe for some strange reason the post was considered religious.  I’m not sure how a non-belief can be religious, but each to their own.  So I tried  a different tactic.  In the faculty handbook he states something to the effect that in our teaching we should encourage critical thinking in our students.  What could encourage critical thinking more than a poster that says atheists are discriminated against in a community that is predominately Christian. I would hope a student would read that and think, “Hmm, bias against atheists?  What reason would someone have for being atheist? Wait, what reason do I have for being Christian?  What is the source of my beliefs?  How do they differ from an atheists beliefs.  I should go to the website on the bottom of the add and find out more.”  I made the argument to the one in charge that my teaching extends beyond the classroom.

He retracted his initial No dice stance, and said that he would take my comments under consideration.  If I don’t hear back from him by Monday I should give him a call.  This is a clever ploy, as next week finals start on Tuesday so traffic on campus will be much reduced and the impact of the ad will be much reduced.

I am going to check out the American Humanist website a bit further to see if I can find a flier that is not so seasonal that i might have up and read to go the first day of the Spring semester.

Perhaps I should close with a few questions reads might comment on:

Why would a university administrator’s knee-jerk reaction be to deny a post that raises awareness for a diversity issue?

More importantly, why is it okay to post advertisements for fellowship dinners at the Baptist Student Union or the Wesley House and not okay to post a sign that suggests there are people in the community that have different beliefs than the majority? (Note to point: I saw a sign near the student affairs office advertising a Christian Addiction support group.)


About benevolentheathen

I am an Associate Professor of Biology at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in ecology, evolution, and behavior with an emphasis on terrestrial vertebrates, especially reptiles. In recent years I have become increasingly interested in the interplay between science and religion. I consider myself spiritual, but not religious. I am continually reassessing my thoughts and ideas about God, faith, and religion and how they fit into my empirical worldview. View all posts by benevolentheathen

2 responses to “Don’t think, just be

  • Rod Murrow

    I wonder what the response would have been if a student from SGA has requested permission to post the flyer around campus. The knee-jerk reaction you described doesn’t surprise me at all. Several years ago, I once told an administrator friend that they should issues blinders to students on the first day of classes and require them to be worn at all times. The comment was not well-received.

  • The Free Thought Activist

    As a Christian, I can tell you that there is nothing scarier to Christians than someone who has no faith…vis-a-vis an Atheist. Be it Muslim, Islamic, Buddhist, heck, even a Satanist a Christian can tolerate; at least they have faith in the supernatural. But someone who doesn’t believe, let alone have faith in a “higher power” is instantly ostracized as an immoral social pariah. To even speak to an Atheist is grounds to be sent straight to Hell unless, being a good and proper Christian, the Atheist is belittled, harangued, and coerced into belief. This idea pervading America that Atheists should be treated like plague victims goes completely against what I believe is the true Christian faith. As Christians, we should be welcoming a civil and thought provoking conversation with Atheists and people of other faiths. It is only through respectful and open communication that either side can see where the other is coming from. As far as the censorship on campus, my only idea would be to gather enough faculty and student support that the administration would have to allow the postings. Perhaps there needs to be an awareness of what kind of restrictions are being put on the free thinkers populating the campus. This kind of censorship is very reminiscent of Communist China, South Korea, WWII Russia, and I hate to say it, but Nazi Germany. Allowing only what will make the college look good and not allowing anything that could be taken as controversial is very occult like. Check out any Micheal Sherman book for more on this topic.

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