Eric Fromm is the student body president at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon.
And last week, he publicly outed himself as an atheist:
I was an atheist long before I came to NCU. I was baptized Lutheran, and raised Methodist, but as time went on I slowly came to the conclusion that God wasn’t real. For me, church was an empty ritual that I participated in so I could see friends, scripture was largely mythological, and Jesus was a great moral teacher, but he wasn’t God.
Yes, yes, I know: What about the obvious question?
Now you may ask, “Well, if you’re not a Christian, why did you come to NCU?” Truth be told, I came to NCU not because of its religious affiliations, but because it had a solid communications program. I knew that the school catered to Christian thinking, so before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement. No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.
Eric isn’t the first atheist to attend a Christian school. He isn’t even the first atheist to be student body president at a Christian school — hello, Evan Clark! — but he may be the first to come out after being elected in that position.
Surprisingly, even the administration doesn’t seem to have a problem with it:
Michael Fuller, the university’s vice president for enrollment and student development, said he’s known about Fromm’s views for years and didn’t question his election as student body president.
“He’s a man of very high character and respect,” Fuller said of Fromm. “He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do.”
Turns out he is. According to the school’s page of Frequently Asked Questions:
We welcome students who have no faith commitment or are from other faith commitments. NCU is not a ‘church’, nor do we require students to be Christians or to subscribe to any faith statement. At the same time, all students should be prepared to be exposed daily to a Christian world-view and to be encouraged to a Christian faith commitment. As a community, we are committed to living out our middle name.
In that case, more power to him!
Eric says that the article has resulted in almost all positive feedback:
“I knew friends would be accepting, but I didn’t expect as much support” and positive feedback from across the campus, he said. Some students have even identified with his perspective, he said.
“For the past couple years, I thought I was the only one,” he said.
Seriously, what an inspiration. Coming out is hard enough at a secular school, but to do it at a Christian school when you’ve already garnered a certain level of respect from the other students? That takes guts.
Eric deserves a lot of respect for coming out as he did. He may even help other students at the school find the courage they need to do it themselves.