‘I absolutely hated it’
Honor students at a Catholic university recently complained during a townhall Zoom meeting about the incorporation of the Bible into the curricula.
Loyola University Chicago’s Honors BIPOC Coalition, which has asked the university to increase the diversity of the honors program curricula, held a discussion on Wednesday, March 24. A number of students criticized how much the Catholic university makes them read the Bible.
“I personally did not like reading the Bible whatsoever, in any capacity,” Himani Soni, a Loyola student, said during the online meeting.
“I absolutely hated it,” Soni said, even though she said the other texts that were read in the honors’ program classes related to the Bible.
“As someone that has not grown up in a Christian household, even though we’re told to read it as a text to reflect the historical value of the reading, and not just in a religious context, it’s extremely unfamiliar to me,” Soni said.
She then criticized the use of it and said that Christian students at the Catholic institution had an “unfair advantage” because they have had “years of experience talking about the concepts.”
“For me personally, I had such a hard time reading the Bible, and it was not an experience I would ever have again, considering how it was taught.”
“I had to put in maybe ten times more effort than peers had to to understand the basics of the text” to understand similes and metaphors and other symbols in the text. Other students had to “let her know” what things in the Bible meant.
Two other students agree there is too much Bible reading at the Catholic university
Another student agreed with Soni’s comments.
“Considering that so much of the honors program is based around diverse perspectives of the texts, but when you come at it from such as religious background, it can be really difficult to use,” Gia Clarke said.
Clarke had agreed several minutes earlier with a Jewish student named Katherine O’Neill who also said she did not like having to read the Bible, including Genesis.
“I know that [the] Western traditions [course] probably isn’t going to go away, and I do see value in some of the materials we learn in the class,” O’Neill said. “But when we’re reading philosophers and texts that do have problematic language and content” about minorities or women, “it’s important to recognize that.”
“Also, recognizing different perspectives and interpretation,” is important, O’Neill said. “The reading of Genesis is done from a very Christian perspective.” She said she does not like the term “Judeo-Christian” because “Judaism is very distinct from Christianity.”
Clarke said her peers have spoken often about how often the Bible is incorporated into discussions about texts “that may or may not need Christianity to be related to, or at least not the amount they do.”
IMAGE: Loyola Undergraduate Admissions/YouTube