Students share experiences as non-Christians at Baylor

Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden

Baylor is known for its renowned Christian education and the environment of excellence it offers its students; however, not everyone is a Christian on Baylor’s campus. The role a student plays in the Baylor community can be affected by how he or she is treated in and out of the classroom.

Senior Amman, Jordan, Abdulla Ghali said his religious beliefs often clashed with the “Baylor image,” and felt excluded from opportunities, such as being a community leader for a residential college.

“Non-Christians are not allowed to be line camp leaders or CLs. When I asked why, I was told that Baylor hiring and paying a non-Christian for that job would not fit the profile of their goal as an institution as well as not having the Christian leadership role present,” Ghali said.

Throughout his academic career at Baylor, Ghali said he felt that he was excluded from activities his Christian peers were able to do, and that his biggest fight wasn’t against his peers but Baylor.

“The biggest struggle was never the people, but the institution,” Jordan said.

With a Muslim faith, Ghali said he doesn’t want Baylor to rid its Christian values, but to simply give him equal attention despite his faith.

“I want Baylor to keep holding onto the Christian core values it believes in but not at the expense of religious discrimination,” Ghali said.

Dehradun, India Junior Atishay, whose faith lies in Jainism, said that despite his religious beliefs, he wants to spread happiness in the lives of others on Baylor’s campus.

Jainism, according to Jain, is “the one who is completely aware of his senses” and a way of life that simplifies one’s experiences in the journey of life shared together.

Jain embraces his environment at Baylor and said he believes everyone is simply human.

“I highly value, admire and respect the values held by the Christian community,” Jain said. “Yet, I see Christians the same way I see myself — humans — nothing more, nothing less.”

While attending Baylor, both Ghali and Jain have felt pressured to change to fit the Baylor mold: often a Christian student sharing the same moral and social values as each other.

Jain said that he has gone as far as to question his own beliefs, yet he is thankful for the support he has received from those close to him.

“Yes, I have often questioned myself when my views have been challenged. I did feel that it has been a rough ride in terms of making friends sometimes, who otherwise are great, but made me feel different when they themselves and possibly myself too at times had narrowly absolute views on our beliefs,” Jain said. “I do understand my own responsibility to improve here. Nevertheless, I have also been fortunate to have some wonderful friends who accept me the way I am for which I am going to be forever thankful.”

Though not a Christian on a Christian campus, Jain admitted the secret to his happiness. Jain said that his goal is to simplify happiness and create a better environment for everyone.

“What really matters is how we all stand up together, support each other, accept others even though they might be slightly differing with our understandings and work together to make this world a better and a prosperous planet for everyone, humans, animals and nature alike,” Jain said.

While more students on Baylor’s campus are Christian than those who aren’t, Ghali said Baylor has strived to be inclusive and embracing of his and others’ religious beliefs.

“Nevertheless, there is a solid strong community that does include faculty who wholeheartedly believe that part of being Christian is having open arms to those of different faiths and helping them feel at home,” Ghali said.