Northwest Christian University Class President Is an Atheist

eric frommEric Fromm went to NCU because it had a good communications program and then found he had to come out. First he gets popular, becomes a good communicator, that he become class president and then he finds himself either having to coach and promote church or come out.

Fromm said that one day, when he opened up the floor for questions, a freshman girl asked him what would be the best way to entice someone to go to church.

“I can’t exactly answer that because I don’t go to church.” Fromm said to the girl. He told the class he was an atheist and that he had never shared that with anyone.

He had checked out the school before and thought it was OK, survivable.

“Before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement,” he said. “No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.”

I get this. I assumed when I got married I could deal with the Episcopal church because they are one of the most left of churches and many relatives were democratic or libertarian (back when libertarian wasn’t Tea Party). Then I started going to family weddings, funerals, and reunions and just gagged at the services. The most mind-blowingly numb and idiotic tripe I could imagine. All the same crap with a veneer of niceness and I could not deal with it nor could I have children raised to believe in such misogynistic, inhumane words. Dumbed down the bible still makes no sense, a vicious document. Immoral crap made to sound like love.

“Every day I’m burdened by the fact that my peers might reject me because I’m different from them. I won’t be rejected because of my race or social class, but simply because of the fact that I don’t believe in God — because I am an atheist,” wrote Fromm in his post.

Yeah, it eats at you when you go undercover and you realize there is a real danger of experiencing ostracism. You’re not paranoid. You know they are after you. Yet, he says they didn’t all go after him. There is a route for doubt, disbelief–as if it were rare? Doubt is proof that you are choosing faith–the fallacy of doubt as certainty.

However, the support he received from the school, from friends, and even online came as a surprise to him.

“All of our students are on a journey,” Jones said. “While the majority of our students profess a Christian faith, not all do. We as an institution meet students were they are at and believe that our God is big enough.”

Hmm, they went after me or should I say they didn’t so much care for me as they did for my children. I could stay home but the kids had to go church. I just chaffed like boulders in shoes at this. It wasn’t all roses for Fromm.

Fromm said, however, that along with the support from his school and friends he has also received criticism, mostly from a local paper that picked up on the story, the Eugene Register-Guard. However, he said he said he was not going to read those comments.

A commenter from the Register-Guard, posted:

“Atheists actions are quite contradictory. First, they say their lives are like a drop in the ocean. That is, their lives and their actions are but an accident and also insignificant in the whole scheme of things. YET, they go about advertising and preaching their OWN INSIGNIFICANCE?” wrote a poster identified as “AhContraire.”

So there was push back but he chose to ignore it.

Some students even reached out to Fromm’s adviser because they were “concerned and surprised” that he was an atheist, McGinnis said.

Fromm’s adviser met with him to address the rumors about him being an atheist.

“Eric was upset people were questioning the way they were,” McGinnis told ABC News.

“I didn’t feel free,” Fromm said. “At first I felt at home, but when a person starts shunning or judging me because these misconceptions started happening then I didn’t feel free.”

I heard the “concerned” as well and umpteen times how religion was such a comfort to them or that religion was family or that it was community. All of it showing they closed their ears and  brains when they went to church, talked religion, or read specific biblical passages they could actually understand–the bible, a book so obtuse no one can get it.

Fromm said he was also shocked to see how many people online have reached out to him with their own personal stories and also to tell him he was an inspiration to them. He said thanks to his post, people were telling him they had hope they could be accepted for not believing in God.

Yes, maybe his story will inspire more to have integrity and express what they believe so people like Dawkins and Maher don’t have to make remarks like the president and pope are really atheists without really knowing.

Yet, there is something odd about this story. Fromm was originally Methodist and Lutheran. The NCU site insists all staff make a vow.

All full time faculty members are expected to demonstrate “a maturing Christian faith.” The overwhelming majority of part time faculty and NCU staff are Christians as well. Whenever we conduct a job search to fill a position, we ask candidates to submit a ‘statement of faith’ in which they describe their own Christian experience and how they relate that experience to their work.

He says he checked it out.

“Before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement,” he said. “No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.”

If he made a deconversion at NCU I would guess it would be stronger rejection than he shows. More like, my gawd, this is the most incredible bullshit I’ve ever experienced, beam me up, get me outta here.

JIm Newman, bright and well

About Jim Newman

Jim Newman is a philosopher. When I was young I wondered what was the ultimate truth. How should I behave? What makes it all work? I was intensely curious to know what it all means. It was enlightening to realize there is no ultimate truth, but nevertheless sufficient and necessary turth, and that meaning was a meta analysis of living one’s life. In this sense my work has been living large. Living and experiencing life has made me learn many things. Building boats, motors, houses, electronics. Raising animals. Teaching. Writing. Photography. Drawing. Knitting. Sewing. Cooking. Music. Painting. Hiking. Aboriginal living skills. All material aspects of reality that seem irrelevant until you realize they allow you to experience more. My epiphany came when I read Christopher Hitchen’s “Letters to a Young Contrarian” and I felt vindicated in my many meals of sacred cow.
This entry was posted in atheists and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.