DoctorE

Turtles all the way down

Northwest Christian University’s student body president comes out as atheist

Posted by doctore0 on November 10, 2013


Eric Fromm has received a lot of hugs on campus lately — at least once a day since he “came out” as an atheist last week in an article in his Christian university’s online newspaper.

And while the Northwest Christian University student body president doesn’t quite know what to do with all the new attention he’s receiving, he says it’s a welcome change from the isolation, verbal attacks and accusing questions that he’d grown to expect as rumors about his nonbelief circulated.

“I don’t have to hide anymore,” said Fromm, 21. “I know that people accept me for who I am.”

Though his active campus involvement was enough to win him the student government presidential election, Fromm said he’s felt judged by some of his peers throughout college because, as he wrote in the article that appeared in the school’s Beacon Bolt newspaper last week, “I couldn’t force myself to believe in God.”

It was his peers’ criticism, rather than his own doubts, that Fromm said ultimately compelled him to reject his faith.

Fromm said he was baptized as a Lutheran and attended a Methodist church regularly until his parents’ divorce when he was a teen. He said he had many questions still lurking from his upbringing in the Christian church when he arrived in 2010 to study communications at NCU, which was established in 1895 and is nestled next to the much-larger University of Oregon campus.

As a graduate of the 1,600-­student Canby High School, Fromm said he opted for NCU, despite his emerging doubts, because he liked the communications program and the one-on-one attention he knew he would receive from his professors on the 600-student college campus.

While initially drawn to his peers’ faith and sense of community, Fromm said some students responded with shock, shame or fear when he divulged his doubts and lack of faith. Some avoided bringing up the Bible around him, some stopped talking to him for fear of losing their own faith, and others poked fun at him for his views, he said.

“The more I got shunned, the more cold shoulders and verbal attacks, I realized, ‘OK, I’m part of the ‘out’ group,’ ” he said.

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