A petition was circulated around campus to halt the insertion of pamphlets labeled “Faith for Life,” published by the Fargo Baptist Church, into student mailboxes. Senior Steven Edwards is at the head of the petition accompanied by various campus organizations including the Student Government Association, Straight and Gay Alliance, Feminist Majority Alliance and the Student Environmental Alliance.
“I found [the pamphlets] to be promoting gender roles and evolutionary theory as sin,” Edwards said. “It was conflicting with campus values, as well being a waste of paper.”
The petition gathered over 300 signatures to request that the “Faith for Life” pamphlets not be inserted into student mailboxes anymore. However, the petition does not ask the Fargo Baptist Church to stop making their pamphlets available to students who still wish to receive their message.
“It would be really hypocritical of me to say that because my values don’t agree with theirs that it shouldn’t be on campus,” Edwards said. “I just don’t want to get [the pamphlets] in my PO box.”
Pastor Tim Megorden agrees with the methods Edwards is taking to stop the distribution of the pamphlets in student mailboxes.
“Our society is bound together on freedom of speech and there are a variety of ways to offer our voices,” Megorden said. “But to stuff [the pamphlets] in a private communication space seems a little invasive and arrogant.”
Megorden also disagrees with the message being administered by the Fargo Baptist Church.
“They just want to scare the hell out of you,” he said. “I think there is another way to invite people into an encounter and relationship with God.”
However, the delivery of the pamphlets can only be halted by the Fargo Baptist Church. It would be a breach of the federal postal laws if the Concordia Post Office did not deliver the pamphlets to the CPO addressed, even if the students asked the church to not deliver them.
The petition also calls for the Fargo Baptist Church to find a more environmentally friendly way to spread their message to students that still wish to receive the pamphlets.
“I pulled out 300 [pamphlets] from the garbage and recycling bins,” Edwards said. “Beyond just the issue of unsubscribing, there has to be a more environmental means of delivering them to campus.”
Edwards has delivered the petition to unsubscribe certain students and faculty from receiving the pamphlets, along with a formal letter listing different more sustainable options of delivering their message to students.
One option would be for the Fargo Baptist Church to have a space on the magazine and newspaper racks for their pamphlets.
According to Edwards, attempts at meeting with the Fargo Baptist Church officials to discuss the petition and more sustainable delivery methods were declined until Concordia College backs the petition.
“It’s great that the students are forwarding this petition,” Provost and Dean of the College Mark Krejci said. “They are exercising and learning how to be responsibly engaged in the world, but the college is not supporting or sponsoring the petition.”
Krejci has not been contacted by the Fargo Baptist Church or the petition organizers about Concordia College supporting the petition.
Currently, the organizers of the petition are not looking for the official support of the college.
“We are trying to avoid dragging the school into this because it’s a student issue, not a college issue,” Edwards said.
Pastor Tony Scheving of the Fargo Baptist Church was unable to be reached for comment.
However, through email correspondence with Associate Pastor Lawrence Vandal, Edwards was given an email address that students and faculty can use to unsubscribe from the “Faith for Life” pamphlets.
Students and faculty who are interested in being taken off the subscription list for “Faith for Life” must email Vandal at firstname.lastname@example.org to request removal.
Edwards, and the other organizations, are currently reevaluating their course of action, and still hope to meet with Scheving to discuss ways for the “Faith for Life” pamphlets to be delivered in a more sustainable way.