Prior to 3/5/2008 the newsclips are available in a PDF archive.
News Clips 10/31/2013
Blurring the lines of faith and school
Source: FSView, 10/30/13
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By Adrian Chamberlin
Recently, Florida State University’s Student Senate passed legislation that allowed religious and cultural groups to receive Student Government funding. While that funding is limited to trips, advertising and paraphernalia and the bill states clearly that no funding may be used for proselytizing, I nonetheless have a serious problem with Bill 97.
My beef with the bill is that there is nothing in it that defines what proselytizing entails, let alone what it is. I certainly had to Google the term, even though I could generally assume what it is. Proselytizing is, to paraphrase, the persuasion or attempted persuasion of others to switch from one belief or religion to another.
I agree with that part of the bill. Student religious and cultural organizations should not receive university money for conversion efforts. This is a state-run university, not a religiously affiliated one. Unfortunately, I think Bill 97 contradicts itself. I would point to allowing funding for advertising and paraphernalia as that contradiction.
After all, what is advertising if not an attempt to persuade people that a certain product or company is different than what you otherwise might think it is.
When McDonald’s runs ads for their McWraps describing them as “more than enough to pull you in,” as one ad says, that’s an attempt at persuasion.
When Dos Equis runs ads saying that the “Most Interesting Man in the World” drinks their beer, that’s an attempt at persuasion.
And when a religious organization runs an ad urging you to visit their website, or a religious organization hands out pamphlets with information about their beliefs, that is an attempt at persuasion.
So it’s safe to say I disagree with anyone who says that Bill 97 prohibits proselytizing, because by providing funding for advertising, it provides funding for proselytizing.
When the FSView and Florida Flambeau ran a story on Bill 97 on Monday, it was mentioned that among the objections some senators had to the bill was its vagueness regarding the definition of proselytizing.
In fact, the bill goes further toward allowing proselytizing by allowing religious groups to talk about religious topics or lectures during their Student Government Association funded travels or events.
The bill does state that an alternate activity from the offered religious topic or lecture must be arranged if a participant requests it, but that is still allowing for the discussion of religious topics during SGA time funded by SGA.
Perhaps I’m being too strict with my interpretation of what constitutes proselytizing. Student Government seems to think so, since the bill was passed. And I’m sure the religious and cultural organizations that will receive funding from the bill are fans as well.
In the end, I remain dissatisfied with Bill 97. That dissatisfaction is specifically as a result of its vagueness, not necessarily that it means religious and cultural groups will be receiving SGA funding. While I’d be okay with seeing a more cleanly spelled-out resolution funding FSU’s religious and cultural groups, I can’t say I’m a fan of Bill 97 as it currently stands.