Despite the two full pages of outrage in Flyer News over the Society of Freethinkers being rejected official recognition by our university, I admired the decision by university officials.
For once, a Catholic university is willing to stand up for its (gasp) Catholic identity, an identity that embraces both faith and reason, as Amy Lopez-Matthews wrote in her magnificent rejection letter. While some of my fellow writers claim that this rejection is trampling the students’ First Amendment rights, I actually read the letter. Nowhere does it say that these students cannot believe (or rather, not believe) whatever they want, or practice that wherever they want, it simply says that the University of Dayton will not endorse an organization that runs counter to the university’s mission of faith. The rejection letter even goes so far as to say the university has “offered you space to meet,” and all but says that despite the university’s attempts to reach out to SOFT, it’s SOFT that hasn’t been willing to play ball.
Students attending UD know full well that they are attending a Catholic, Marianist university, and as such, it’s expected that people who choose to come to UD respect the university’s Catholic identity. At a bare minimum, students who attend UD are not expected to actively recruit others to dismiss their faith. It’s one thing to have a different faith; it’s another to deny faith altogether.
Furthermore, I take personal offense that Branden King accuses three well-respected men and women of being bigots for denying their group, after SOFT has made a series of bad faith gestures (pun intended) to recruit new members. I resent especially that Fr. Jim Fitz has been made into a pariah because he is practicing his sacred vows to spread the faith as a Catholic priest.
I hardly feel sorry for the students that chose to attend UD and have been told that they cannot advertise a message on campus that runs counter to the university mission. You are entitled a voice, and the university let you have it. The university even let you have a room to converse with those who have similar convictions. However, to turn away from God is serious, and the university cannot in good conscience embrace an organization that seeks to do just that. Frankly, I’m incredulous that King would honestly think that the university would embrace an organization that seeks to free themselves, and by extension, others, of their “burden” of faith in order to become enlightened.
Thank God I go to a real Catholic school, one that truly embraces its Catholic identity. If you’re looking for a school that doesn’t, might I suggest Notre Dame?