Baylor University Continues to Deny Atheist Group Official Status September 27, 2007

Baylor University Continues to Deny Atheist Group Official Status

In a piece by Baylor University senior Justin Mueller, he argues that the school “should be more friendly to groups of disbelief.”

Within the Atheist and Agnostic Society on campus (yes, there is one) nearly every member has told his or her “story” of their rejection of religious ideas, and the oft-ensuing parental sobbing and family strife that unsurprisingly follows.

Some of these people have also been homosexuals, which can add another layer of duress with the conservative prejudices that can accompany religiosity.

He sheds the myths…

As far as I know, very few atheists eat unbaptized babies. Nor do we have a higher propensity for kicking puppies, to my knowledge.

… and tells anecdotes of intolerance:

We have no crosses or official symbols, yet the display of a simple Darwin fish, or some other celebration of science and reason is far more likely to receive the smashing in of a windshield with a baseball bat, or a personally delivered death threat (both of which I have had the pleasure of receiving during my tenure at this loving Christian community) than any sort of openly positive response.

And he asks university leaders a great question:

Finally, and perhaps most futile, a query for Baylor’s religious establishment: Why are non-Christians not deserving of recognition and the right to organize on campus?

Yes, we non-Christians are fully aware that this is a private religious university, and that you can do what you wish. The question is whether you should.

It is hypocritical to portray Baylor as a university that respects diversity and seeks intellectual advancement while denying the aspirations for self-discovery and intelligent discussion that many students can only find in the sorts of groups and organizations that Baylor disallows.

Baylor will never achieve its long-term goals of academic maturity if it continues to ignore and treat non-Christian students as if they are undeserving of similar privileges.

Nicely said.

What exactly is he talking about, though? Isn’t his atheist group already on campus?

Yes, but only unofficially.

Check out this article from just over a year ago:

In spring 2005, Mueller approached Dr. Dub Oliver, vice president of student life, to begin the process of making the Atheists and Agnostics Society an official student organization on campus. The request was denied because of Baylor’s policy, Oliver said.

Baylor’s Student Policies and Procedure states: “The recognition of a student organization represents University endorsement and approval of the goals and purposes of that organization as being consistent with and in support of the goals and mission of Baylor University.”

Oliver said he believes an atheist group would not be consistent with Baylor’s goal.

The mission of Baylor apparently being to stifle any contrarian voice.

I went (and will one day return) to grad school at DePaul University just outside Chicago. It’s also a private religious institution. I haven’t have time to start an atheist group in my brief time there so far, but I don’t anticipate there would be much resistance. The school has been pretty open to non-Catholic voices in my time there.

Justin has the right idea. Keep raising the question. Draw attention to it. Even if the school keeps saying no, you succeed in making them look hypocritical and foolish. All you’re asking for is the opportunity to meet and converse. It’s not asking a lot.

[tags]atheist, atheism, The Lariat[/tags]

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  • Three words: Private RELIGIOUS University

    I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t allow an ATHEIST group on campus…

  • Karen

    All you’re asking for is the opportunity to meet and converse.

    I would think that encouraging the honest exchange of ideas is supposed to be the mandate of any institution of higher learning.

  • mjbigelow,

    We fully understand that a religious university has a right to deny association with anyone, including atheists. What I have charged against them is that their rules hypocritically conflict with their own alleged goal of increasing academic integrity and diversity, and being open to all views. The campus is in the midst of a program called ‘Project 2012’. It is a campus expansion program that is attempting to raise the academic integrity, research and intellectual quality of the work and study going on within the campus to a ‘Tier 1’ level. However, as we see with numerous other incidents, such as arresting gay rights protesters on campus, expelling gay seminary students, and denying all non-christians a presence on campus, there is a cognitive dissonance occurring. The goal that the administration has set to become diverse, intellectually respectable, and open runs into direct conflict with its original Baptist roots. As such, by their own propositions they are employing inconsistent approaches to dissent and difference, and until there is some unification of policy, hopefully for the better, the university is going to continue to be criticized for its hypocrisy.

  • Joe G

    The Catholic Student Association hasbeen established on campus. Does this make you happy? I know its not the AAS but do you think its a start?

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