September 19, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 13  

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Recruit through choice, not fear

For some at Ryerson University, freedom of religion doesn't exist and neither does freedom from religion.

Students on the campus in downtown Toronto have been subjected to fanatical recruitment drives by the International Church of Christ, mainly during O-Week; often a time when religious groups recruit heavily on university campuses.

Students leisurely walking the campus grounds were approached by members of the church and when they denied the recruitment ploys of the religious organization, they were aggressively badgered.

The university has banned all religious groups from recruiting on campus, essentially eliminating their ability to seek out new members.

Recruitment has always been a central tenant of many religious organizations. Spreading out amongst the population, members attempt to expose the beauty of their religion. Universities, specifically, are a hotbed of recruitment - 50 per cent of the members of the International Church of Christ are recruited on campuses.

But what happened to choice?

Universities are modeled on freedom of thought. Young students arrive on campuses around the world to create their own path and through education, decide for themselves the lifestyle they want to lead.

Fanatical religious drives such as the one at Ryerson only infringe upon this important right of choice. Yes, university students are old enough to make a choice, but they shouldn't have to face harassment.

Furthermore, according to councillors at Ryerson, many students are so hopelessly devoted to their cause they are unable to pay tuition because they are donating exorbitant amounts of money to their chosen religious organization.

Many religious organizations are as dogmatic in their propaganda as Joseph Goebbels. Students are intelligent people and approaching them in a non-confrontational manner will generate discussion instead of hostility.

By invoking a S.W.A.T. team mentality when recruiting, religious organizations are essentially trying to blare their music so loud that nothing else can be heard. Where's the choice in that?

Unfortunately, it seems issues of overactive recruitment always come from religious organizations, such as the aforementioned ICOC.

How often do you see people who do not believe in organized religion try and shove their moral ideals down the throats of unsuspecting victims?

Recruitment is a positive means of exposing your chosen religion and educating people about its fine points. However, trying to sell your religion like a used car salesman sells a broken down Pinto only distances yourself from the people your trying to inspire.

Adopting a religious ideology should be through choice, not through fear of harassment or punishment.



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