Alumnus concerned that CLU is becoming too secular

A CLU alumnus wrote a letter to the school in response to an article published in CLU Magazine, regarding the changes to the meditation chapel on campus.

In the original article, “All the Ways of Stopping,” CLU’s Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty talks about the addition of a labyrinth behind Samuelson Chapel and changes to the meditation chapel that include adding bibles in multiple languages, the Quran and prayer mats, readings from Buddhism and Sikhism, the Hebrew bible and different prayer resources from around the world.

Semi-retired Lutheran Rev. Lee Rozen, who graduated class of 1966, said that he is fine with non-Christian students attending the school, but is troubled by the additions to the chapel.

“If people want to go to Cal Lutheran University, they know it’s a Christian University,” said Rozen. “Then they should accept that it is a Christian University and not think that they’re going to get their own religious traditions rewarded by unusual acts. I think that’s totally uncalled for.”

Rozen told the Echo he thinks that CLU is going out of its way to accommodate different religions in order to be politically correct.

“I don’t think it’s necessary nor their job to do that,” he said. “Their job is to promote Christ as a Christian institution.”

April Sharp, Rozen’s niece, graduated from CLU in 1991. She said she is considering sending her son to the school. However she does not agree with the changes that have taken place at CLU. For example, she does not believe that non-Christian places of worship should be listed on the campus ministry website.

“I totally, absolutely believe that we should have people from all faiths going to our school,” said Sharp. “But I absolutely do not believe we should be promoting other faiths.”

Sharp said that at this point, there won’t be much difference between CLU and a secular college.

“I love CLU. It’s a fantastic place. It just saddens me to see people too weak to stand up for their faith,” said Sharp.

Rozen said he fears the school is becoming so watered down that it will soon be a non-Christian institution. He feels that there are enough secular universities and he doesn’t want that to be CLU’s future.

“I do not want Cal Lutheran University to be secular,” said Rozen.

Maxwell-Doherty, who is directly addressed in Rozen’s letter, said that she does not feel the same way about the changes to the chapel.

“This church has been committed to working and teaming with others of different faith and similar faiths,” said Maxwell-Doherty. “The basis of the faith is we love because God first loved us, and it’s our native tongue to be that way, whether it’s politically correct or not.”

Maxwell-Doherty said that three years ago, there were days when no one would come to the meditation chapel. The campus pastors, other pastors who are members of the faculty and the religion faculty all collaborated on ways to help a variety of people from different faith traditions.

“For the last two years, we’ve been slowly updating the meditation chapel to provide a place for different students to pray,” said Maxwell-Doherty. “It is more used today as a place of prayer than it has ever been before.”

Junior Shireen Ismail, a Muslim student on campus, said that she uses the meditation chapel to pray and feels very accepted on campus.

“I didn’t expect them to reach out in that way, but I was thrilled that they did,” said Ismail.

She said that the Lutheran tradition is very hospitable and is simply providing a space for people to pray.

“It’s still a Lutheran chapel. Reaching out to other faiths doesn’t mean that you’re infringing on your own faith,” said Ismail.

Maxwell-Doherty said that despite the welcomed growing diversity on campus, the Lutheran tradition is still present.

“This has not been a place where you had to sign a faith commitment to come in,” said Maxwell-Doherty. “What has been important is for people to understand who we are and our rootedness in the Lutheran tradition of the Christian faith.”

 

Lauren Blachowiak
Staff Writer
Published April 10, 2013