When I came to college, one of the things I was looking forward to was more freedom of religion. Or at least less religion forced upon me.
I have never been very religious despite growing up in a very religious town. Luckily, when I arrived at college, I found that less people were trying to convince me that their way was the only right way.
There are still plenty of people here that do try to convince everyone that their way is the only way, but there is still a lot more freedom here than in high school.
When I was growing up, being non-Christian was considered bizarre and often made you a social outcast, but at UCA, most people don’t seem to care one way or another. Having certain religious beliefs may change up your dating and friend pools somewhat, but there are so many people on this campus that you probably won’t notice.
In my hometown, the public high school was often controlled by the churches in town. We had no dances, we prayed before everything and I once received detention for hugging a girl in the hallway.
When I arrived at UCA, I didn’t go crazy with freedom, but I did feel like I could relax. I felt that less people were watching me, judging everything I did. My freshman residential assistant was very religious, but never tried to pursuade me of anything.
This is my third year in college and I have made friends of all types. Most of my friends came to college with very firm religious beliefs that they have fallen away from or stick by their beliefs and have learned to be less judgmental.
And others, like myself, have just learned to listen more to everyone about religion. I have seen that there is good and bad in every religion and that most bad comes from how a religion in practiced, not from the original intent.
Perhaps the most important thing that I’ve learned about religion in college is that I like people of all different religions. I thought I was escaping a religious prison when I left high school, but when I came to college, I learned more about religion than I had ever known before.
I know now that I don’t have to be a believer to appreciate a religion’s mark on the world. Being able to appreciate this has made me a more tolerant view of religious people and has made me better able to understand other views.