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Christian student denounces sorority for ritual swearing oath at ‘altar,’ praising goddess Minerva

‘God makes it very clear to his children that there is only ONE and living God, and that is Jesus Christ’

A student at Howard University has gone viral due to her public resignation letter she recently posted renouncing her affiliation with her new sorority, arguing its induction ceremony made her feel like she essentially worshipped a false God, a compromise of her Christian faith.

Student Zora Sanders called out the sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, in a two-page letter she posted to her Instagram account in May. Sanders and sorority representatives did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment in recent weeks about the controversy.

Sanders, in her letter, described herself as a rising senior at Howard and a former member of its Delta Sigma Theta chapter, writing she “renounced and denounced” her membership.

Delta Sigma Theta is a historically black Greek-lettered sorority, founded in 1913 at Howard. It was established to promote academic excellence and support the African American community, but is open to women of all races. Its website states members work to promote commitment to public service, academic excellence, and sisterhood.

In her statement, Sanders described the secretive induction ceremony, writing she was required to “go to a ceremonial table, kneel down, and recite two different oaths – regarding my now, life-time commitment to Delta Sigma Theta.”

The oath states in part she agrees to commit to the sorority “until final judgment” and can “never be freed,” quoting from the organization’s ritual book. Sanders then cites passages in the Bible that tell believers never to swear an oath to any false gods.

“God makes it very clear to his children that there is only ONE and living God, and that is Jesus Christ,” she wrote.

Sanders also voiced concern with the sorority’s touting of the Greek goddess Minerva, citing a candle burning at the altar during the ceremony.

“The candle is burned to symbolize what the goddess Minerva represents,” she wrote. “Centering false gods/deities, in this case, the goddess Minerva, as the foundation of an organization and initiation of its new members, is a type of worship.”

“…This unexpected emphasis on Minerva conflicted with my personal values, as I do not derive wisdom from the goddess Minerva,” Sanders wrote, adding that she also learned later, after the ceremony, that an image of Minerva is part of the organization’s crest and official symbol.

“As a Christian, I don’t affiliate, partake, or wear anything that is symbolic of any other deity that is not God, including the Greek goddess,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders also alleged that during the first chapter meeting, the president of the sorority opened with Bible verses and Psalms that were “manipulated” and “misconstrued” in order to fit a more “Delta version.” This, the student wrote, is another “huge non-negotiable.”

Sander’s denunciation has sparked significant controversy on social media. Sanders posted it to Instagram May 20. Since then, it has amassed 20,000 likes and over 6,000 comments, some of which praise her, others that condemn the stance, and others that say she exaggerated the situation.

Some even accused her of posting it to gain fame and money. Others argued the use of Minerva is akin to America having an eagle as its mascot and symbol.

Some members of Delta Sigma Theta are also upset their secret rituals were published openly. One comment reads: “No hate, but please delete! As a member of Delta Sigma Theta, I don’t appreciate our sacred info being shown to the public.”

Writing for National Review, Abigail Anthony argued that the “irony is that insisting the sorority’s ‘rituals’ are ‘sacred’ only reinforces Sanders’s argument that they contravened Christian faith.”

What’s more, “some suggested that Sanders should have ‘done better research’ before joining the sorority. Yet how could she have evaluated her comfort with the initiation sacraments prior to joining if they were, in fact, secret?”

However, there are also a significant number of comments rallying in support of Sanders. One person commented, “I will never understand why people are so aggravated by someone else’s decision that they made to be in alignment with God.”

Another defender wrote, “It’s the Lord we have to answer to.” This comment further urged Sanders to “stand on what you said,” encouraging her to remain firm.

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Courtney Graves is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double majoring in political science and economics. At her university, Courtney serves as the vice chair of Young Americans for Freedom and the communications chair of College Republicans. She is also a legislative intern at the Wisconsin State Capitol.