Christianity is Hard to Find
Having a belief system is the basis of a sustainable life. Some people believe John McCain would have made a great president. Others believe one day aliens will rule Earth and probing will be something we’ll just have to get used to. But from an early age, what we choose to believe determines where we’ll go in life, who we’ll be and who we’ll surround ourselves with. So is choosing to come to a school full of atheists a bad idea for a practicing Catholic?
Many of the students who go to Lang believe in evolution, but no longer take science classes. A few walk around spouting information about the last protest they went to, but don’t know the last time they went to church, if they’ve ever been. It seems as though, to them, religion is irrelevant and uncool.
Sandy Fox, president of the Jewish Student Union, said that the JSU focuses on the cultural aspects of Judaism and is a non-denominational group. She also works with high schoolers and said that when she talks to Orthodox Jews about college, she doesn’t usually mention Eugene Lang. But she said this is because she doesn’t think the school is ready for them yet. Unlike NYU, we have no kosher options and no place for Jews to pray.
It could have been a mistake made on my part, being a practicing Catholic and coming to a liberal arts school. However, I found Catholic colleges to be very uptight. I believe in gay marriage and can’t stand the current Pope. But I know quite a few people at Lang or at The New
School in general who are Christian and hate talking about it because of the judgmental responses they receive. Fellow students laughed at me when I told them I was a virgin because of my religion. I understand why they’d be apprehensive.
The majority of the U.S. practices Christianity. In a survey conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center, 77 percent of American adults considered themselves Christian. Lang doesn’t quite reflect this statistic. There are plenty of lapsed Catholics, Christians, Muslims and other religions at this school, but you’d be hard pressed to find a student who owns up to going to any kind of weekly worship. In the two years since I’ve been here, I haven’t met any practicing students. I have, however, met plenty of atheists.
It’s false that there are no liberal arts colleges that are in some way tied to Catholicism and it’s false that there are no colleges in Manhattan with religious influences. So it makes me wonder: Do the students here feel that being close to God gets in the way of finding themselves? Or are they so busy trying to be individuals that they push God away in the process?
Lots of students also think it’s weird that someone who’s religious would choose to come here, but it shouldn’t be that way. If Lang is truly a place where everyone can practice whatever they want, then I shouldn’t get laughed at for wearing a crucifix and the signs encouraging students to go to bible study shouldn’t be ripped down. If that happened with a poster for a Muslim group, it would probably be considered a hate crime.