EDITORIAL: `Jonathan’ campaign misses big picture with religion

The itching curiosity came and went just as quickly as its creator appeared, spoke and exited the Burger King dining area.

Yes, the Jonathan whose name appeared on campus sidewalks, fluorescent green shirts of students, various signs and a full-page ad in The Spectator the past couple of weeks finally made an appearance Thursday in front of a packed crowd in Davies Center.

In front of the surprisingly silent crowd, considering Student Senate presidential debates can’t even function effectively in the same area, Jonathan gave his testimony of his belief in Christianity through the use of Bible verses, an analogy and personal experience.

Jonathan then ended his speech and quickly exited the area amidst a decently loud applause. He did not wait to hear whether the audience agreed with him – Jonathan, the subject of all the attention the campaign received.

Although he did mention the group’s Web site and booth in Davies as spots to comment on his views, he did not wait to hear the other non-Christian side face-to-face.

I headed to Davies Center last Thursday afternoon in hopes of hearing not a one-sided debate but an open discussion on the various sides to the very complicated and sensitive issue of religion and faith. The intellectual way to attend.

That was not going to happen.

One belief made by Jonathan toward the end of his speech that demanded rebuttals was about the key to eternal life being through Jesus Christ.

It was the equivalent of telling someone, in this case non-Christians, that they’re going to hell when they die and then quickly running away from them without hearing their side or “defense” face-to-face. It’s arrogant, irresponsible and totally anti-Christian to say the things Jonathan said to what was a very respectful audience and not to stick around to respect and hear their views in person. This is particularly so with the use of scare tactics.

Yet, I do think the whole “Jonathan” campaign was great for this usually quiet campus. First of all, it’s total freedom of speech. There’s nothing like a Jonathan group to make people think and possibly re-evaluate what they believe in. Although, it would have been better if these ideas could have been brought forth at the Thursday gathering.

There seemed to be a good response to the speech, but the quick departure made me wonder how many students actually agreed with Jonathan.

I know I don’t agree.

It’s absurd to believe the Bible is the “truth, flawless and completely inspired by God,” as Jonathan said. This is a book written throughout hundreds of years by many authors whose words have been interpreted into thousands of languages and rehashed to fit into modern language. How can it be flawless? It’s virtually the longest and largest game of telephone known to man.

Also, why must everyone individually put trust in “Jesus as Lord to be saved from eternal death?” Is the peaceful, passive-resistance leader Mahatma Ghandi in hell because he practiced Hinduism instead of Christianity?

What about today’s Dalai Lama who peacefully is fighting for his fellow Buddhist Tibetans’ rights? All headed to hell? No way. According to the Jonathan group, though, they and other non-Christians are.

That is absolutely wrong. I believe if you do good on this Earth and contribute something to society, you’ll have something good awaiting you in the afterlife. But I do not know the answers.

It is very arrogant for anyone to believe that any religion, for example Christianity, is the only ticket to heaven and eternal life. With so many religions in this world and so many people who probably never have heard of Christianity, there cannot be only one right religion.

Look up into the sky at night sometime. Stare into the deepest reaches of space at a star sending light rays millions of years old into your eye, while you sit on a spinning planet that is the tiniest speck of dust in a universe estimated at about 15 billion light years across.

Now try to fathom no higher power being behind it. To me, it seems impossible: that’s where I’ll agree with the Jonathan group.

But to say this higher power had only one religion in mind for a planet that would consist of thousands of different cultures, beliefs and languages, is absolutely ridiculous.

No one knows what awaits us after death, whether there is an afterlife or absolutely nothing. Religion is a sensitive issue that, for the most part, should be dealt with on a personal level.

And if you believe in a specific religion, respect others’ beliefs, non-religious or religious, and show your faith through your actions. Not through a $500 full-page advertisement in The Spectator.