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The chapel at TCU’s Brite Divinity School
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The chapel at TCU’s Brite Divinity School

Why not change the name to Texas Whatever You Believe or Not Believe University?

Religion

Alexis Lohse, a “militant agnostic” student at the private Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas, seeks official recognition for a group she formed called “Freethinking Frogs.” (The horned frog is the school’s mascot.) Atheists tend to refer to themselves as “freethinking,” which implies that we worshipers of the living God are intellectually constrained.

Do you perceive that an awesome Creator designed our complex, finely tuned world and our wondrously made selves, which contain an information-rich code that someone had to write? Free yourself from ignorance! It’s only chance and random mutation. But I digress.

From the local Fox affiliate:

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“‘There’s a lot of students at this college who are growing up without any religious affiliation,’ Lohse said. ‘People who apply different labels to themselves, you know, atheists, agnostic, a freethinker … skeptics.’

“Students around campus have mixed reactions to the group. Some say they don’t oppose the group, but couldn’t identify with it personally. Others say non-believers are more common than one might think.”

My first reaction to the story was that it’s more of the same “in your face” machinations of the godless to encroach upon and irritate Christians. But after I learned that TCU recognizes Jewish and Muslim organizations, it took the wind right out of my indignant sails. I also learned that the school has an interfaith initiative in which students can “celebrate … individual beliefs.” Why would people who believe that the only way to God is through His Son Jesus Christ celebrate the belief that there is no god but Allah or that there is no God at all?

TCU student Bojan Gutic shed some light. “I know it’s technically called ‘Texas Christian University,’ there’s a lot of running jokes that its ‘technically’ [a] Christian university,” he told Fox 4 News. “There’s a lot of us. People just don’t often talk about it.” 

That helps explain it. TCU’s mission is “to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community,” and its vision is to be a “a world-class, values-centered university.” The language seems carefully crafted to downplay its Christian origins (the university is affiliated but not governed by the Disciples of Christ) and welcome unbelievers. There’s nothing wrong with attracting unbelievers. Christians on campus would have a ready-made mission field. But I couldn’t find a statement of faith on TCU’s website or anything similar.

If TCU recognizes other unbelieving groups and promotes “interfaith,” I’m pretty sure Lohse will get the recognition she seeks. In that regard, it seems the story is much ado about nothing much. I get the feeling Lohse’s quest isn’t particularly controversial on campus, but it’s newsworthy because TCU is a private university with “Christian” in its name.

I can’t imagine attending a private Jewish or Muslim school and seeking official recognition for my Christian group. I also can’t imagine such schools approving a group in which members assert Christ was more than a mere prophet, but the Messiah who’ll return to deliver God’s wrath to those who refused to accept Him as Savior.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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