MU students describe pitches by evangelists
Journal (Marquette University), April 15 1988.
By Marie Rohde
One evening in mid-January, Jim, a 21-year-old junior at Marquette University, answered a knock at his door In the Mashuda Hall dormitory and met two polite young men whom he recognized as students.
The two said they had stopped by to ask Jim if he was interested in joining their Bible study group.
Although he said he had “been thinking about joining some sort of Bible study group and here was one knocking at my door,” Jim never made It to the meeting.
A few nights later, there was another knock at his door. This time, he said he was met by one of the students from the earlier visit and another young man, who Jim suspects was not a student. They asked why he hadn’t joined the Bible study group. He told them he was too busy, he said.
Then, a few days later as he was walking along W. Wisconsin Ave. on the campus, he ran into the man he suspects was not a student.
“He asked me If I thought I would go to heaven If I were to die right then,” said Jim, who did not want his name made public. “I told him I thought I would. He basically told me that if I was not a member of his church, I’d never make it.”
Jim said he had told the man he wasn’t Interested In what the man had to say and walked away.
The young men, according to Jim, were evangelists from the Milwaukee Church of Christ, a congregation that holds services at the Grand Cinemas, 214 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Their activities have caused concern among officials at Marquette, a university founded and run by the Jesuit order of Catholic priests. University officials have banned from the campus evangelists from this fundamentalist Protestant church.
Marquette has had a longstanding unwritten policy prohibiting any religious group, even Catholics, from proselytizing on campus.
Eric Mansfield. pastor of the Milwaukee Church of Christ, said his church encouraged members to evangelize as a response to the challenge of the Gospel. He said that student members of his church had been subjected to harassment by the university.
Father Michael Maher, a Jesuit who is a member of the campus ministry team, has formed a support group for students who joined the fundamentalist group and who say they have had difficulties leaving it.
Maher said only a dozen or so students were involved In the fundamentalist church.
One student, Jane. a 20-year-old junior who also asked that her real name not be used, said she had been an active member last year but had quit.
Jane, a Lutheran, said she had become interested in the group because she had not been aware of many non-Catholic religious activities on campus. She said these were some of the things that had bothered her about the group:
- She was encouraged to either convert her boyfriend or drop him because, as a Catholic, he was a sinner.
- She was told that her love for God should be so strong that, by comparison, her love for her family would seem like hate.
- She was told that her baptism as an infant was invalid.
Jane said she was able to break way from the group after going home last summer and thinking things out.