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Coexisting on Campus

Dahlonega students open conversations on religion
Colin McCollough
Why I (You) Don’t Go to Church
Editing BCM chalk message (Abigail Brown)

On the days preceding Feb 19, Baptist Collegiate Ministries left chalk messages on the sidewalks inviting people to join the meeting happening on Monday. That night, messages advocating to make the University of North Georgia a place for all religions were found next to the original BCM chalk. Students were quick to share their thoughts on these messages. Rylee West, sophomore biology major, says, “When I first saw the messages, my first thought was I agree with them…I feel that it’s important that we as students should be welcoming and understanding.”

On Monday, Feb. 26, students found the largest chalk message yet, left on the road behind Barnes Hall, a message titled “Why I (You) Don’t Go to Church.” The message spanned nearly the entire length of Barnes Hall and ruminated on what Christianity has become in current times. CJ Moneke, BCM president and senior psychology major, says he felt “challenged to do better” as a Christian by the message’s call for Christians to stop going through the motions of the religion.

Onlookers reading the message (Colin McCollough)

Moneke says he never intended to make anyone feel excluded with the BCM chalking, only to invite people to join.

The message behind Barnes Hall began by citing how religion has become a sore point for people because it can be used to exclude people. Grace Bowser, sophomore chemistry major says, “So far, it resonates with me. I was raised in a conservative religious household and went to church, well, religiously. But when I came out to my mom as gay it changed why we went.”

The original authors of the responses to BCM’s chalk messages were among the crowd of students reading the message behind Barnes. One of them, Abigail Brown, senior art major, says, “We really just wanted something to get people to start talking.”  The other person who responded to the BCM message is Faith Burns a junior criminal justice major. She says, “We have nothing against Christians. It was just, we wanted to see some representation for everyone.”

Additionally, they say they felt as if there were pressure among new students to join these religious groups. Burns says, “A lot of people that I know, freshman year of college, they were really alone when they first started, and they saw those chalk messages and they were like, ‘I’m not necessarily Christian, but maybe I can be just to make some friends.’ ”

With the message behind Barnes Hall in response to the coexist message on the original BCM chalking, Brown and Burns seem to have succeeded in their goal of starting this conversation over religion.



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  • C

    Cormac McAlesterFeb 27, 2024 at 7:15 pm

    Nothing says coexist better than defacing another religion’s artwork and making it all about yourself.

    Matthew 5:28

  • R

    Rylee WestFeb 27, 2024 at 2:06 pm

    I love this article!!!