Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My hilarious run-in with CRU

I was originally going to come home and rant about how shitty and busy my last three days have been. To put at least today in perspective for you, I had to wake up at 6 am in order to set up a bacteria culture, had classes, work, and homework constantly, and then my four hour laboratory class ended up lasting 6 hours because our gel kept mysteriously failing, so I wasn't done with that until 7:10 pm. I was sleep deprived, frustrated, and frumpy by that point - imagine Hermione's potion scene from Harry Potter 6, and you'll understand how I felt. But then I remembered I needed to slap up a couple of heathen callout flyers in that building, and I figured I'd do it on my way out.

I go to a lone poster board and pin up flyer design number 1 - "Atheist?! You're not the only one." There was a guy next to me hanging up the annoying MCAT flyers that take up every inch of every poster board, and he stopped.

"Atheists? Really?" he asked somewhat disdainfully.

"Yeah. Something wrong with atheists?" I replied politely.

"No...I just...well let's say I don't agree."

"Agree to disagree, then." I smiled and moved onward.

My main target were the four giant poster boards outside of the largest lecture hall in LILY. Not only are tons of science classes held there, but people have to wait in the hallways to get in, so the flyers there are effective. I'm about to walk to the poster boards and and I pass three girls in pretty dresses. I figured they were there for a sorority callout or something.

The red-headed girl said, as I was walking by, "Hey, coming to the CRU meeting?" For those of you who aren't up to date in campus evangelism, CRU stands for Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the biggest, wealthiest, and most organized Christian groups across the nation. Members often joke that CRU is our arch nemesis, partly out of distaste (one of their main goals, listed in their constitution, is to convert students to Jesus) and partly out of jealousy (they have so much freaking money they're always holding huge block parties with free food and putting ads on the side of buses here). If that's not enough to annoy you, they seem completely oblivious as to why we think the word Crusade in their name is a bad idea.

Anyway, I'm one of those friendly altercation-avoiding atheists, so I just smile. "Ah, uh, no." I move to put up more flyers, but she keeps going.

"Really? I swear you look familiar."

She looks vaguely familiar, possibly from a biology class, but I have no idea. I flip my flyers over to show them the giant "ATHEIST" plastered all over the front. "Well, I run the atheist club, so maybe you know me from there," I say jokingly.

Her two friends giggle, but the red-head's face turns completely sour. "I wouldn't be going to atheist meetings," she scoffs. Sneers. Honestly, it was so stereotypical sounding, insert whatever disdainful adjective you want.

"Oh, I dunno, I thought maybe I'm infamous or something," I say with a big grin, obviously joking. Her friends smile back, but the red-head looks mildly terrified or disgusted to be talking to me. I then finally moved on to put the rest of our flyers - including "You can be good without god" and "God?! We don't think so, either" up while more and more CRU people shuffle in, all dressed in their Sunday best, staring at me incredulously.

Some may consider that just even more crap to put up with, but it made my day. I'm weird like that.


  1. Small victories are sometimes the most satisfying!

  2. That must have been satisfying for you, Jen.

    It reminds me, somewhat, of the time I was reading Harry Potter in the Student Union Building while listening to Iron Maiden (and wearing a Maiden shirt). A very nervous, young, and obviously Catholic girl approached me and asked, "Are you a Satanist?"

    My response: "Of course I am. Would you like to come to our Harry Potter reading and orgy later? But if you show up after 9, you miss the goat slaughter."

    She paled. Then I relented and apologized.

  3. So was the redhead cute?

    Sorry... couldn't help myself... devil puts those thoughts in me.

    really though Jen I am envious of you, I didn't do much community stuff when I was in college and I wish I had. I also remember CRU on my campus and you are right, they are well-funded indeed and pull in a lot of folks that are looking to belong to a group of some kind.

    You guys are my heroes.

  4. That sounds like it must have been at least a bit fun.

    I just wish I had some of those around, instead of tactical fundies.

  5. Glad to know I am not the only one who enjoys these run-ins. At our Friday Fest, what NIU calls their freshmen recruitment, I was approched by several of the heads of the religous groups including CRU. Each one wanted to talk for about ten minutes, and several promised to come to our weekly meetings. It is kind of funny really; I know several of them that would show up regularly last year.

  6. Campus Crusades for Christ offered free root beer floats at our campus this year. I arrived, ready to debate, only to sheepishly leave soon thereafter when I tuned in to the fact that it was essentially a "Here's the Christian dating pool" group. I go for controversy, and all I get is dating! How irritating!

  7. I'd absolutely try and flirt the hell out of some of those Christian girls.

  8. Heh, just yesterday our atheist group had a Satanist come and talk, which was quite enjoyable and was delighted to discover that Satanism is nothing like Christians make them out to be. In fact, Satanism is more of a deliberate self sabotage just to thumb their noses at other religions.

    But what's amusing is that the multi-faith chaplaincy where we hold our meetings, upon discovering that we were having a Satanist over, has now permanently thrown us out of there because of the Satanist.

    Now I just have to get my brother at the catholic school to study Satanism for his religious class and my life will be complete.

  9. At my previous college, the CRU changed their name from CRU to "Overflow". "Overflow" had a small group called "Stripped".

    I never did any Cru/Overflow activities, so I don't know what exactly inspired the name change, but part of me thinks that they wanted to "market" their organization to people who would be automatically turned off to anything called "CRU".

    Because everybody knows how much Jesus enjoyed the good 'ol bait and switch.

  10. lol, that sounds like fun Jen, I hope I get to toy with some crusade peoples... It amazed me how often the only slot to put our fliers up was between the 2 CRU fliers that were up on every board, although I'm pleased to say that our atheist group is the only other student group as well represented at IPFW with regard to the posting boards :D

  11. We have the DIVE here at Kent. They're even f*cking nuttier than the CRU.

    And Jen, you are infamous. I can think of at least twice just in the past week where I've been talking with people from our club and said something like "I was reading Jen's blog the other day..." and everyone knew exactly who I was talking about. Seriously, I don't know about other places, but here at Kent State you're right up there with PZ and Hemant when it comes to blogger name recognition. Congratulations!

  12. I think this is appropriate...

  13. Oops, bad link.

  14. She was probably nervous in case she caught atheism off you.

    Luckily for her, atheism involves a sort of cerebral swelling, and it sounds like there's not a lot of substrate to work on there.

  15. I wrote a thing recently about the Christian Union group at my university. I don't know if I mention in it that they actually insisted that leading members of the society weren't allowed to date non-Christians. I think I'm mainly snarking their promotional video (which is still on youtube after all this time).

  16. Blooming eck, did I write "recently". Actually I wrote that quite a while ago. One thing I have seen recently is this group going round the country called "the Jesus Army". Seriously - why that name? (Imagine the reaction to an "Atheist army".)

    The site didn't look too bad until I checked out their promotional video:

    This line sticks out:
    "Get rid of everything that's nice. Everything you like. And throw it all away. That's what it's all about."

    Yeah.... um... ok.

  17. I had a run-in with a Christian campus group yesterday. They were giving away free lemonade in cups with stickers on that said something about Jesus (I didn't look too closely). Of course they were only shouting "free lemonade", though, so I approached them... saw the cups and reconsidered slightly, so here's how the conversation went:

    Me: "What's the catch here?"
    Them: "Do you want the entire spiel?"
    Me: "No need; is this a Christian group?"
    Them: "Yes."
    Me: "I cannot in good conscience accept anything from you. Good day."

    I was thirsty, but I thought the principle was more important. I wonder if any of them understood what I meant at all, though; I worded it kind of obscurely.

    The ironic thing is that I had my copy of The God Delusion in my briefcase, as well as Breaking the Spell, but it didn't occur to me to make use of them. I wonder if I ought to have.

    I need to find out if there's an atheistic group around here that I can join to start some sort of counter-campaign (maybe bus-ad-style flyers or something, maybe Get Out Of Hell Free cards, something like that). I'm not sure why, but evangelism on a university campus really irritates me - maybe it's that it seems even more inappropriate than usual when it occurs at an institution devoted to higher learning.

    To cut a long story short... let's just say that I'm very glad that not everybody puts up with it.

  18. Ooer, that did sound fun. I wish I could have been there.

  19. Encounters like this do amuse me, but they still stress me way out, and I end up thinking about them for days and being all nervous and whatnot.

    Hey BeamStalk.

  20. Jason, long time no see, I sent you a message the other day about a picture I thought you would enjoy. Check it out at SMRT.

  21. My undergrad school put up a big cross on their front lawn, made from treated lumber, put together with carriage bolts for easter, many many moons ago. It really was kind of lawn ornamentish, so very late one night, somebody (me? Oh no, never) put out two pink flamingos next to it. They were up for maybe two hours. They didn't even make it to sunrise. :(

  22. You should have hissed at them. Then I would be able to read funny emails from my side of the fence about how evil atheists hiss at Christians.

    Thanks Jen, for depriving me of my entertainment. :)

  23. Personally, I think that encounters like this are so satisfying because they completely fly in the face of the antisocial, misanthropic atheist stereotype which most theists cling to. I don't wish to toot my own horn, but I've been frequently cited as very gregarious and I try to help other people whenever I can. Thus, people who know me even reasonably well are generally shocked to discover my irreligious standpoint. Provided that the religious person in question is willing to demonstrate tolerance (if not acceptance), such encounters can be exquisite tools for improving the image of atheists as people.

  24. Well, I'm antisocial and misanthropic (and grumpy).

    But, I think, less so than when I was a theistochristian deistoid.

  25. I understand you completely. I know a few CRU students, and they are so very weird.