Eric Fromm, student body president at Northwest Christian University, a faith-based college in Eugene, Ore., stunned his college community last week when he revealed through an op-ed published in a campus outlet that he’s an atheist.
Fromm shared his theological views and issued a clarion call for Christians to be more accepting of others who disagree with their worldview in the Beacon Bolt, an online publication.
“My name is Eric Fromm. I am Senior at NCU majoring in communications, and I am an atheist,” he wrote in an article titled “Lifting the Curtain.”
He continued, “Yes, you read that correctly, I am an atheist. For those of you who didn’t already know about my nonbelief, this news may be a bit shocking, but I was an atheist long before I came to NCU.”
Fromm went on to explain that he was baptized a Lutheran and raised a Methodist, but that, over time, he began to develop the belief that “God wasn’t real.”
Considering Fromm’s admission that he came to Northwest Christian University, a well-known Christian school, as an atheist, he explained that he did so because he knew the school had a good communications program.
“I knew that the school catered to Christian thinking, so before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement,” he wrote. “No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.”
In his op-ed, Fromm described often struggling during university chapel services, as he found himself wanting to be a part of the excitement and energy, but he said he couldn’t force belief in God upon himself.
From there, Fromm took aim at some of the Christians on campus who have treated him differently since they found out he’s a non-believer. He called it ironic that these same people who now scoff at him would often complain about how they were treated in high school as a result of their Christian views.
“When people found out that I was an atheist, they started treating me differently,” Fromm continued. “Sometimes they would verbally attack me, sometimes they would give me the cold shoulder, and sometimes they just gave me dirty looks.”
He concluded by noting that he is “burdened” by the potential of rejection because of his non-belief. Fromm said he wrote the article so that he no longer has to keep his atheism a secret — and because he wanted to target his peers’ “inability to accept those who don’t fit their Christian pattern.”
In an interview with The Register Guard, Michael Fuller, vice president for enrollment and student development at Northwest Christian University, said that he has known about Fromm’s atheism for years and that it did not cause him to question his student body presidency.
“He’s a man of very high character and respect. He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do,” Fuller said.
While Fuller added that the school wishes Eric would be a “strong Christian man,” he went on to say that he wants students like Fromm to be a part of the academic community — individuals “who are looking to explore their faith and willing to look hard and make their faith their own.”
Some critics, though, question Fromm’s presidency and charge that a Christian school’s mission cannot be fulfilled by having an atheist student leader at the helm.
“With an atheist president, it doesn’t make sense how this mission can be carried out,” one critic wrote in an e-mail to The Register Guard.
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(H/T: Christian Post)
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