In a column published by the Beacon Bolt, the student newspaper for NCU, senior Eric Fromm announced to the student body that he was an atheist while calling out the judgmental peers that shunned, or worse, attacked him verbally.
Fromm was baptized Lutheran and raised as a Methodist, but during his journey realized he did not believe God existed.
He decided to attend NCU despite its religious foundation and mandatory chapels because the school had a solid communications program. He tried the school out and even attended a chapel to ensure that he would not be uncomfortable and to be able to complete the requirement.
“Every day I’m burdened by the fact that my peers might reject me because I’m different from them. I won’t be rejected because of my race or social class, but simply because of the fact that I don’t believe in God — because I am an atheist,” Fromm wrote.
Michael Fuller, NCU vice president for enrollment and student development, acknowledged that he was aware Fromm was an atheist and did not question his election.
In an interview with the Eugene Register-Guard, Fuller said, “We’re an open and welcome community, and we meet students exactly where they’re at.”
Jeannine Jones, director of university relations at NCU, said the university was aware of his beliefs.
When Fromm decided to address the rumors going around the campus, he was worried that administrators or the students would reject him or challenge his presidency.
However, he has received support from the administration and the students and is not having to step down as student body president.
Unfortunately, there are some Christians out there that have acted in ways that are extremely unchristian. There have been those that have given Fromm a cold shoulder and dirty looks or worse, verbally abused Fromm.
In the student handbook for NCU, the university states, “Nearly everyone must adapt his or her lifestyle to some degree in consideration of other individuals or groups. We believe all students have the right at all times to study, sleep and live in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”
We applaud the university for practicing what it preaches. It respects Fromm for where he is and is meeting him there.
We support NCU students and administrators in their acceptance of Fromm and for allowing him to remain in the role in which he was elected by the student body.
At the same time, we have to denounce those Christians that have chosen to judge Fromm and denounce him for being an atheist. Fromm is being honest and has acknowledged that he has struggled with religion.
However, he cannot force himself to believe in God.
Colossians 4:5-6 tells believers that they are to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Furthermore, Christians are commanded in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
While we agree with Fuller when he said, “If we all had our wishes, we wish Eric would be a strong Christian man,” we also believe and affirm that it is Fromm’s right to believe as he chooses, and if he chooses to believe that there is no God, then, as Christians, we should meet him where he is at and not try and force him to accept our beliefs.