Should bibles be passes out around college campuses?
Brynn Terry, Copy Asst.
Cute little green books made their way around campus Thursday morning. These books were pocket-sized copies of the New Testament of the Bible distributed by a few kind older gentleman and women standing outside of the Student Union. I saw them offer a copy to everyone who walked by at least once. Some like me were approached several times, and I found myself unable to say no the first time because they were so kind. I witnessed some people deny the bibles, some take one and walk away laughing, and some people were pleased to be given the small gift.
Although it was a kind gesture, I couldn't help but wonder if they should have been giving away the Bibles at a public college that is not affiliated with any one specific religion. Isn't there some sort of problem with separating church and state, since the give away had in fact been approved by Rhode Island College?
Well, not necessarily, as this is an example of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and having a public campus means that pretty much anyone (within reason) can come to campus. In fact, James P. Adams library is a public library that any Rhode Island resident can check books out at. They had the right to be passing out their bibles and were generally respectful of people who declined their offers.
Giving out copies of Bibles on a college campus is not seclusive to RIC, as I recently watched snapchat stories from a friend at the University of Maine holding the same tiny green Bibles. Yet, should it be allowed if it is not by a member of the campus? We have groups on campus such as Sojourner that consists of students sharing their religion on campus. If they had been offering me a Bible, I likely would not have been as taken aback as I was.
I grew up Roman Catholic, so I have read the Bible a few times in my life. I think it's an important piece of literature, and it's incredibly important to many people who practice the Christian faith. Yet, I can't help but feel like religion isn't like a flyer to attend an off-campus event or a coupon for pizza. If you are not a student, maybe you shouldn't be on a public college campus for religious reasons.
If the group had set up a table in Donovan Dining Center and allowed people to voluntarily come get a Bible, I think I would`ve been more comfortable with it. This allows people to go to the table on their own will. It decreases the chance that a person who might not want a copy will feel rude or uncomfortable if just asked like a friendly ambush.
Ultimately, I think it's up to the students to decide what they'd like on campus. The RIC campus should be a place to express yourself, whether a member of Sojourner or the Cat Coalition.