Butler Students share their thoughts on how they think society views Christianity
by Tatum Sturdivant | editor-in-chief
In Wichita, there are approximately 200 churches, according to Churches-In.com. When driving down the street to the store, everyone is bound to pass at least three churches. A total of 70.6% of Americans surveyed by Pew Forum claim to be in the different Christian denominations; 20.8% claim to be specifically Catholic and the remaining 8.6% range in a variety of other religious beliefs.
Although Christianity is the most common religious belief in America, many followers believe society tends to treat these believers to a different set of standards than everyone else.
“People expect for Christians to be perfect,” freshman Adrian Bookout says. “They have to be 100% all the time like we do not have our bad days. The most stereotypical trait that I think people expect is for us to be judgmental.”
It is impossible for everyone to be perfect and please one another, so these expectations may lead believers to suppress their beliefs, or not mention it, depending on who they are around.
“I feel like sometimes people do not want to hear about it, or I fear they will treat me differently because of it,” Bookout says. “[Society’s expectations of Christians] brings pressure on Christians because if [they] mess up, then that can reflect badly. Also, people will act a different way, or not be themselves with you to please your beliefs.”
Bookout also claims, by suppressing her beliefs it has impacted her image when around her nonbelieving peers.
“I will sometimes act differently with my friends who are non-believers, which will then impact their view of me,” she says. “I have noticed that I am more able to speak out my beliefs when I am with other Christians. I think that is because I do not have to be vulnerable. I know that I am already in a safe place to talk. With nonbelievers you put yourself out there; it is hard to do and it is uncomfortable, but that is what God called us to do.”
While some Christians feel like they have to suppress their beliefs, there are others that would say otherwise.
As part of having a relationship with God you are supposed to share your faith [with] people,” sophomore Gizell Gonzalez says. “Not because you want people to see what you believe in, but because you want people to see your relationship with God and make them think about what they believe in could be wrong.”
Speaking up and sharing one’s beliefs is not necessarily an easy task, but it is something that believers feel called to do.
One time Gonzalez recalls was when she told her friends from home about how she gave her life to God.
“When I was telling my friends from home that I gave my life to God they [said] that they did not like who I was becoming,” Gonzalez says. “That was really hard for me to hear from them because they were my childhood friends and still are. It was hard for me to pray for them because I knew they did not accept me for who I am.”
Although society often provides negative feedback towards one’s beliefs, one way that Gonzalez and Bookout stay in tune with their beliefs is by staying connected in the Christian community.
“Community is very important,” Bookout says. “We are the body of Christ. If we are not in community, then our body is not functional. We need that support and accountability. It can be a positive environment to just be yourself in.”
Bookout claims that it is easy to confide in those with the same beliefs but also believes that Christians need diversity.
“However, I would say that there needs to be some diversity,” Bookout says. “We have to reach out to those who are lost. I heard this analogy that it is those who are sick that need to see the doctor, not the people who are healthy. Meaning that we, as Christians, need to reach out to the ‘sick.’”
In order to stay connected in the community, Bookout claims she attends weekly church services, has a weekly Bible study and attends Navigators on Thursday evenings at Wichita State University.
Gonzalez agrees that it is important for Christians to stay in community with fellow Christians and does so by attending Campus Crusade for Christ, Cru, a youth group for college students at Butler Community College, and attending church with a family in El Dorado.
“[Cru] has impacted me so much,” Gonzalez says. “It is where I have met my closest friends that are now my best friends. … [I] believe that … your Christian friends help you grow [closer] to God, and you can talk to them about anything that God has for you in your trial. It is also possible that they are also going through the same thing, or have gone through that trial.”
Bookout believes that despite the stereotypes society holds over Christians, that believers are able to change how they are viewed.
“Be your best even at your worst,” she says. “Show God’s love each day and let people know what you believe. You should show it through words and actions. Let people see that it is okay to make a mistake, show people that you are forgiving. We are all human, we are going to sin; however, because of God’s love and mercy, we are able to repent and be redeemed. People need to see that we aren’t perfect and we do make mistakes, but we learn and strive to be better. We still need to keep the standard high, but also know that it is okay to have bad days.”