By Zach Mongillo, Special to the Chronicle
The words "God Hates Religion Too," the title of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship's current theme, has been printed on hundreds of flyers that were handed out by the club across campus throughout fall semester.
After seeing this flier, junior Gage Moody-Siegel commented, "I think it's a pretty bold statement considering they're trying to get people to join their religious-based club."
Like Moody-Siegel, many students have questioned the group's motives and wondered why a religious group on campus would publish this phrase. And yet, the club had been purposely trying to stir up conversation among students.
Earlier in the semester, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship displayed an enormous set of wooden boards in front of the Student Center with the words, "What do you hate about religion?" written across it. Students were able to freely express their own answers to this question by writing personal responses across the rest of the board.
The board had well over 100 responses by the end of the demonstration. Responses ranged from statements like, "I HATE IGNORANCE," to, "What would Jesus do?"
"I wanted people to write what they honestly thought," said Mark Atkinson, president of the club. "The goal of this demonstration was to get back to the core of this religion and what it really means," he added.
Atkinson said that they were trying to get the message across that not all Christians and religious groups, like his, are hateful like some believe. He even said that "Jesus hated the same things that people wrote that they disliked about religion".
Some students even felt it necessary to relate religion as a whole to groups of hateful extremists. A student wrote that his reasons for hating religion were because of the Westboro Baptist Church, a well-publicized organization based out of Topeka, Kansas that makes their personal beliefs about homosexuality, other religious institutions, and politics a major issue.
According to Atkinson, IVCF does not support judgmental views on modern day complications like the Westboro Baptists, nor does it condone hateful messages of any kind. "All of this foolishness happens when you let other people tell you, instead of finding out for yourself," he said. His club aims to take personal opinion out of religion, and guide the hands of students towards finding God.
Atkinson wanted everyone to know that they are welcome, and that anyone can attend a meeting to see what he refers to as "not just a club, but a family."
"Though this is called the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, it is not just for Christians," he added. "We want everyone to come and check it out."
The club will bring the "God Hates Religion" theme to a close this Thursday, Oct. 27. Its closing falls during their weekly meetings at the Greenhouse on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. The group's next theme will be called "The Gospel Series," and it will be a continuation of the previous one.
In addition to discussing their theme, the group will be running a fundraiser called "Operation Christmas Child" for the holiday season.
"We collect shoe boxes, pack them with gifts and ship them off to different countries around the globe to children that have never received a Christmas gift before," said Atkinson. "Our goal is to send out 300 boxes."
The fundraiser will take place throughout the next couple of months, and all students are encouraged to help make a box or donate money to ship them.
Atkinson wanted to let all Hofstra students know that "if anyone's in a place where they're searching for friends, hope, balance and genuine love, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is definitely a place you can find that."
He then added, "Not just in people, but in God."