Religious Freedom and Expression are Collegiate Staples

A decade of my life was encroached by attending a Catholic school, and it took nearly a decade to realize that Catholic teachings have only ignited a pseudo-faith. I never truly believed in the Father, Son nor the Holy Spirit; I believed in a higher power, but none of the aforementioned. I was afraid that by not complying, I would face negative consequences that would hinder my education. I realized that attending a Catholic school was detrimental to an open mind.

My life as a writer began at the juvenile age of 12. Not only did I want to write, I wanted to spark a change by writing my opinions. I sought no harm in my intentions to be opinionated, however, my writing was sinister to a Catholic school’s administration.

Threatened with suspension, expulsion, and probation, I thought that writing was a crime. I wanted to talk about abortion, gay marriage, pre-marital sex and rape culture. I wanted to talk about topics that actually affected me as a woman and as a human being. But the clash between the Catholic regime and my mundane beliefs hindered my desire to pursue writing.

This neglect was then rescued when I met a professor who’d change my perspective on writing. He was a professor for a summer writing class I took at NYU; he told me that my writing felt restricted and he pondered the reason. My response was, “a religious institution.” Professor Morgan then sprung me from my suppressed desire to be opinionated and refueled my desire to write. My opinions were encouraged, rather than hushed, and just like this piece, have an opportunity to reach  out to a like-minded crowd.

Instead of being hushed, there’s a blissful celebration of free expression. Not only did a professor introduce me to this line of thinking, but, I realized that this is encouraged by universities. It wasn’t just NYU. It was all institutions that didn’t belong to a church. Upon entering university, I was delighted. The idea of allowing students to freely express their opinions while removing the fear to argue for what is right is like a breath of fresh air. This feeling of removing one’s own faith ridden shackles may come off as a shock to a few, but others may empathize in the freedom that accompanies having religion removed from their education and their beliefs.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way.The primitive sense of belonging to a religion isn’t like it used to be according to the “American Freshman,” a study prompted by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Cooperative Institutional Research Program.

 

“In 1971, 17.3 percent of men and 13.5 percent of women did not affiliate with any religion. By 2014, those figures had moved to 30 percent of men and 25.4 percent of women selecting “none” as their religious preference. These gender differences are consistent throughout the 40-year-plus history of the item,” according to the study, which researched the abandonment of faith labels in the millennial generation.

However, the study does emphasize the fact that “none” doesn’t mean “atheist.” The feeling of existence above still remains prevalent in Generation Y’s beliefs, and I’m the epitome of this ambivalence.

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