Like many students at the Rutgers Student Center bus stop on Tuesday evening, I had the discomfort of having someone’s religious beliefs trumpeted at me through a megaphone. Actually, that happens fairly often. The disagreeable part was when someone literally stood in my path, preventing me from walking, and stuck papers under my nose with some sort of religious propaganda. One man even glared at me and aggressively stated, “You will accept Jesus as your savior.” I’ll make that choice for myself, thank you very much.
While proselytizing is legal, and there do not seem to be any school policies against it happening on campus, aggressively attempting to impose your religion on another goes against the school’s widely publicized values of diversity and acceptance of differences. How can someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus as their savior feel welcome at the University when groups of people constantly attempt to convince them, loudly and publicly, that they are going to hell? In addition, yelling your beliefs through a megaphone at a bus stop is, quite frankly, counterproductive. The only thing you’ll accomplish is further destroying college students’ hearing as we raise the volume on our iPods to drown out the noise.
A woman approached me about a year ago and asked if I knew anything about the Bible. We then had a very pleasant 10-minute discussion about our different perspectives on the Bible and how it impacts our lives, after which she invited me to a Bible learning session. Although I have a completely different belief system and did not plan on attending her learning session, I appreciated the fact that she respected my intelligence enough to engage me in a discussion. Other proselytizers should realize that they’d be much less repellant if they engaged students in meaningful discussions instead of disrupting our peace of mind by screaming through a megaphone.
Jordana Gilbert is a School of Engineering senior majoring in biomedical engineering.