Respecting religious boundaries

BY CARLOS DIAZ 

LOCAL CONTRIBUTOR 

Bible Study Group. Photo credit by Carlos Diaz.

College of the Desert is a school that has students from various cultures and religions. There are many different religious groups on campus. One of these groups is called Bible Study. The group invites COD students to their gatherings to discuss the Bible.

A Bible Study member who wished to remain anonymous said,” we try to help students reflect spiritually, to expose the Bible and help relate it to campus students.” Another anonymous student expressed that the Bible Study group is not just for Christians but for everyone regardless of their religious background. “We don’t try to make you attend a particular church, but to make Jesus and scripture more available in your day.”

Before every Bible Study gathering, some members go around campus and ask other students to come by and join them. COD  student and Bible Study member Andrew Remington said, “the group is most definitely voluntary, you are welcome to come and go as you please, none of what we do and say is from our own opinions.”

Two students who discussed their experiences about being invited to one of the meetings called it, borderline harassment. COD student Jose Campos said, “my experience with the Bible Study members has not been pleasant.” Campos said he was with a friend looking at job flyers, when a young man invited them to their group. “We peacefully disagreed, I guess ‘no’ was not an  answer for him, he just kept rebutting an excuse we kept making, said Campos.” After some time Campos said he tried to ignore him, and then the other man started saying, “Jesus died for your sins.” Campos said he was surprised because the tone did not seem respectful.

Another COD student Salvador Rivera said, “I was walking to my class and approached by a man. He asked me if I wanted to join in a meeting later, to which I said no thank you.  He then asked if he could get my number so he could send information on upcoming events.” Rivera then gave the man a fake number. “I told him I had to go to my class. He followed me to my class. It made me very uncomfortable. I feel like if you are aggressive with them they will leave you alone but they take advantage of your kindness,” Rivera said.

The group responded to these stories of harassment. “I went to that group at first, until I was invited to this group by another gentlemen. I was already a Bible believer and just wanted to be in a group for fellowship. In terms of borderline harassment we do not ask for people’s phone numbers or follow them. We ask only once and if they say no, then we let them go their own way.” Remington said.

Jose Verdejo who was invited to the group said, “I consider myself a spiritual person and I was approached in that matter and when I approach people to come invite them in our group I found myself being as puritan.”

COD is a wonderful school with many wonderful cultures and religions. COD does not condone groups patronizing individuals and condemning them for not respecting other people’s beliefs.

 

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