I greet the approach of the Christian Union‘s annual Mission Week with a sense of dread. Not because I’m not looking forward to it, but because it means we’re all going to have to put up with another week of listening to pseudo-intellectual Richard Dawkins wannabes sounding off about how much they hate the CU.
Last year this time, Yik Yak was abuzz with chat about how a “CU-lt” was “harassing St Andreans” by “forcing their dogma down our throats.” An alien monitoring St Andrean Yaks would think that the Bubble had been overrun by the minions of the High Sparrow. Now, Yik Yak has obviously died a quiet death, but these anti-CU sentiments seem not to have.
So, for the benefit of any aliens reading The Stand, here’s a quick rundown of what Mission Week actually involves: In order to promote dialogue about Christianity, members of the Christian Union (unpaid, in their own time), organise talks, discussions and other events for St Andreans. Oh, and there is also a lot of food. Which is free.
For some reason, people think this is a bad thing.
I swear, I’ll never understand why. This is a town where the organising committees of fashion events can charge you more than I spend on food in a month to watch people play dress-up, and St Andreans are somehow fine with it. Yet the CU can be vilified for literally offering people a free lunch.
And, I mean, come on guys – it’s the Christian Union. When you’re at your most wasted on a Friday night, they’re literally there (at Toastie Bar) to make sandwiches for you. I’ve never met anyone from the Christian Union I’ve disliked, and I hate almost everyone.
Now, before I get accused of being a religious apologist (god forbid), I’m not a CU member. I’m an agnostic, secular Jew who, until recently, thought “Eucharist” was the name of a Heavy Metal band. I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about a group that does a lot to make St Andrews a better place, and gets no credit for it. By shaming them, we’re biting the hand that actually feeds us.
Now, I don’t entirely buy the idea that Christians are an oppressed group in UK society, but it’s hard to deny that St Andrews treats the religious – and especially Christians – with a certain snootiness. Even last week, our very own Stand published an article saying Mormon missionaries were out of their depth in The Bubble’s intellectual climate. Obviously there are problems stemming from organised religion, but the guys in the matching jumpers offering you free lunches probably aren’t responsible for many of them.
Let’s snap out of it, shall we? Lets stop treating our fellow students who happen to be Christians as bigoted zealots, or cultish, leaflet-brandishing weirdoes, and instead look on them as human beings. Luckily, Mission Week (happening this week), gives us the perfect opportunity to do this. This year, the theme the CU have adopted is “STORY”, and will involve (as well as talks and free lunches) Christian students setting up a marquee outside the library to share tea, coffee, and their experiences with Christianity. I think, given the amount that the CU have done for the student body, it would be the least any of us could do – regardless of religious belief – to listen.