*This article has two authors.
If you’re an IUP student, odds are that you or someone you know has been approached by a random adult, who doesn’t belong on our campus, trying to talk to you about Jesus or Christianity.
They come up to people minding their own business in the Oak Grove, near George P. Miller Stadium, walking back to dorms and some even stay stationed in front of Stapleton Library.
I am someone who was raised as half Jewish and half Christian but really only celebrates major holidays and doesn’t go to a synagogue or church. So whenever I am approached by one of these people, it feels wildly violating and invasive.
In conjunction with that, I am a person that was not raised in a religious household at all. Sure I celebrate the major Christian holidays, and I attended church with my grandparents when I stayed with them, but as a whole, I was not raised religious at all.
Personally, we both believe that religion is something that each individual needs to seek out for themselves rather than having it shoved down their throats by family, friends or these random church people wandering campus.
While the religious people that stalk IUP’s campus are not a uniquely IUP problem, seeing as bigger campuses like Penn State have them to a larger degree, it is still a problem that can be irritating and uncomfortable for students on campus.
It is also important to note that, if the people on campus were part of a religious club such as Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), it would be more acceptable and less invasive. But the church people that come to campus tend to be older members of the greater Indiana area.
If they are not part of IUP’s student body or community, they should not be coming to the heart of campus to spread their ideas on religion to students. If students were that interested, they would seek it out themselves.
In addition to the issue of these church people approaching students on campus, they also hand out some extremely problematic pamphlets. For example, there is one that we have seen many times. It has a picture of Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi on the front with the text “What do these four men have in common?” On the back of the pamphlet is a blob of text, mostly making references to the Bible.
This pamphlet is incredibly problematic. To have leaders in civil rights and science next to a leader responsible for one of the largest genocides in our world’s history and saying they had things in common is not acceptable.
While we know that the beliefs expressed by things like that pamphlet are not representative of all Christians in the IUP area, it is the belief that many IUP students are exposed to.
We both have friends that are Christian, and we know for a fact that they do not share the beliefs of the people that venture to campus.
While we know that religious freedom and freedom of speech are important values in America, and we know that there is little that can be done to stop them from coming, we hope that they see the destructive nature of their practices and change for the better.