I have a secret, one I’ve been struggling to keep due to fear of backlash, but feel must be said regardless of how it is received. I absolutely despise being approached by religious recruiters on campus while I’m scurrying between classes or sunbathing on a warm bench.
Let me be clear that I do not dislike the general presence of religious organizations on campus. Everyone has the right to their beliefs and this is something I’m glad the school is accepting of.
The topic of religion is not the problem, as every individual is unique in their religious and spiritual practices. Rather, it’s the abrasive approach taken by these organizations trying to recruit on campus that really aggravates me and detracts from their cause.
Personally, if I were a stranger viewing myself from an outside perspective, I would not associate my appearance with “God.” Erect nipples are my favorite day-to-day accessory and I’ve worked too hard to be comfortable with my body to cover it up because of some mythological man’s rules.
But these tactics seem to have the opposite effect for these recruiters. It seems as though my omnipresent nipples as well as the immorality of my Daisy Dukes serve as targets for devout Christians on campus looking for a new soul to solicit. Neither of these stylistic choices are intended to incite attention from “God” or his congregation, but I believe my evident lack of morality draws these individuals likes flies to honey.
Let me retell the particular moment from which my intolerance stemmed. One day, I ventured out to the grassy quad of upper campus and found a perfect spot to stretch and enjoy my scarce leisure time.
To my right, I saw two women also enjoying the wonderful day, chatting in the sunshine. Suddenly, I heard the conversation coming from their direction take on an uncomfortable tone.
For a moment I looked up from my stretch only to see they had approached. The approachers were both females, one wearing a large smile and the other staring disinterestedly down at her shoes.
I thought nothing of the interaction happening ten feet away until I was in the middle of a particularly deep stretch.
“I saw you doing yoga, so I just wanted to come and say, hey, I do yoga too!” said the woman with her bright smile, speaking over her glum looking companion. I listened, as part of me was curious as to their incentive.
Within a minute of speaking to me, these girls had managed to formulate a conversation based solely on my beliefs of God. They began with the standard questions:
Did I believe in Him a.k.a God?
Because I just don’t.
Neither of these answers seemed good enough for the girls and they invited my wicked soul to their bible study/prayer session commencing in about five minutes.
I did my best to politely decline, because I had absolutely no desire to pray in a public forum, but the girls would not take no for an answer. The silent one finally looked up from her shoes to encourage me to come, offering a smile and reassuring words.
I lied as a last resort, feeling both frustration and disappointment. Said lie required me to get up and leave the area in order to generate a good enough excuse to deter their efforts.
As I departed, I thought that rather than ask me if I believe in God, they should have asked me if I had gotten enough rest or how I felt that day. Instead, these religious crusaders subconsciously forced me to gather my belongings in shame and forfeit my conquered patch of tranquility.
As I left I saw them peering over their shoulder at me, tracking my whereabouts with their eyes, making sure I was indeed hurrying off to an important meeting.
I tried not to take it too personally since I got the vibe that the interaction was forced on their part, but ultimately was still upset by this as well as previous similar situations.
What these groups fail to acknowledge is that the individuals they approach may have religious views that conflict with theirs. Humans are not all engineered with identical philosophies, nor are we required to be. Every individual on campus is free to seek out support groups that are centralized on their religion.
However, students do not need to have prayer forced down their throat in between classes or sitting around campus. My recommendation, from an often-approached student to these groups, is to stop targeting people who are trying to enjoy themselves on campus or may have conflicting views with your own. Be respectful and keep your thoughts and prayers for those asking for them.