Every Saturday night, I would get the same question, and then the same reaction, upon boarding the Gillett Residence Hall elevator: “You going out tonight?” one of the boys, already slightly tipsy, would ask. (By “going out,” he meant going to a party and drinking.)
“No,” I would say, polite but slightly annoyed, as this happened EVERY week.
“Then why are you so dressed up?”
“I’m going to church. Do you want to come?”
“Oh, you’re one of those people,” he would respond, and deny the invitation.
This reaction came as no surprise; it happened each Saturday. I was, to the boys on my floor, one of those people. What exactly they meant by “those” I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is that it certainly wasn’t a positive description. What happened next, though it varied, was always something smart-aleck:
“Tell Jesus hi for me.”
“I looooove God.”
“I’m Catholic. I bet you didn’t know that.”
“If I went to church, the place would burn down.”
“Say a prayer for me that I’d get laid tonight.”
Why do so many non-Christians react in such a negative way to church-attending, Bible-reading people? Is it because they associate them with slandering pastors in Speakers Circle, picketers like those of the Westboro Baptist Church, or the “crazy killers” like those in the Crusades? Unfortunately, the media doesn’t always do an accurate job of representing our true colors, or the true colors of other religions, which can turn into a downward spiral of misjudging people of faith . . . all based on one assumption from, many times, one source.
For this reason, I was very excited to read an article in the New York Times that addressed "A Better Way to Talk About Faith.” The reason why Christians and many other religions, I am convinced, get such a bad reputation is because people don’t understand them -- they are uneducated about the real people who represent these faiths. I mentioned this belief in another blog post, “Umbrella Faith?”
Thankfully, however, a Chicago-based organization called Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) has decided to challenge these notions by bringing “college students together across faith and belief lines so that they develop greater respect, comfort and appreciation for one another and their traditions.”
As a college student, I will say this: It’s about time.
Through “Better Together” campaigns, IFYC hopes to reach 1,500 that encourage acceptance, and most of all, understanding, of other religions. My hope is that Mizzou, where I attend college, will be one of these campuses.
Maybe I will be saved from the Saturday night harassment on the elevators.