Religion has a place in university life

Dearman.jpg
Dearman is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy.

In summing up writing for The Daily Campus over the past four years, and almost exclusively alongside Brandon Bub in the last two, it is only fitting that I speak about religion on campus.

Religion’s place in public life should certainly concern us — especially here at SMU.

Religion is one of the most crucial components of meaning in the lives of human beings.

These four (or five or six) years of college are crucial in personal development of what values are actually important to us.

Spiritual and moral values are at many points the most important values that we could ever have or understand.

Some members of this university would like to see religion play no role in the development of students.

They take this view either because religion is seen as meresuperstition, traditionalism, or is, in fact, a practice out of accord with the use of reason.

The goal, then, would be to assert other (secular) values over religious values
and practices.

Others do not want to see religion as having a place in the public life of the university because religion is solely a matter of personal preference or feeling.

However, this disregards the fact that the beliefs we hold about what is good and right color our actions toward others and are thus of serious import.

Hence, the goal might be neutrality toward religious and moral views without encouraging or discouraging any particular one over another.

This neutrality, in principle, seems good because it accords with our thoughts about what is fair and respectful.

But often neutrality collapses into hostility toward public displays of religious belief or public assertion of ideas of goodness.

There may be, in fact, no adequately neutral position because none of us are neutral toward religion and morality.

Neither of these views really creates the openness for inquiry that we need when we seek to develop students intellectually, spiritually and morally.

For this reason, I feel very strongly about the creation of spaces in which students can confront and test their views and create new ones.

Clubs and student ministries, for example, are essential for this purpose.

For example, human rights programming on campus serves to help individuals come to understand the worth of other individuals and how to act and treat those people in accordance with their inherent rights.

Religious organizations on campus function similarly as a place in which community and virtue can be promoted.

My own experience is with Christian campus ministries, which have been the most significant places where love, community, faith and practice are cultivated for the renewal of individuals and the SMU community.

My challenge to students is to get serious about their faith and about what they value.

The postponement of such thought to “another time” is a bad idea.

There is no other time for one get involved with a campus ministry, which is specifically designed for the student’s spiritual development. It was the best choice I made, and I regret nothing of the experience, which had brought fullness to my life.

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