Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Jan. 29, 2020

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Atheist student leader is OK with an Oregon Christian university

Senior appreciated for his 'high character and respect'

The Columbian

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Despite a public declaration that he’s an atheist, the student body president of a Christian university in Eugene isn’t in trouble with his school.

Eric Fromm wrote an article for the student newspaper last week disclosing what many on campus knew: He doesn’t believe in God. He says he enrolled at Northwest Christian University because he liked the school’s communication curriculum and the attention he would get from the faculty at the 600-student school.

The university’s vice president for enrollment and student development, Michael Fuller, said he’s long known of Fromm’s lack of belief, and didn’t question his election.

“He’s a man of very high character and respect,” Fuller said. “He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do.

“If we all had our wishes, we wish Eric would be a strong Christian man,” Fuller said, but “… we meet students exactly where they’re at.”

Fromm, a senior, said he decided to set the record straight as rumors circulated on campus. He worried students and administrators might reject him or challenge his presidency. But, he said, he’s gotten a lot of hugs recently. Some students have even identified with his perspective, he said.

“For the past couple years, I thought I was the only one,” he said.

Fromm said he was baptized as a Lutheran and attended a Methodist church regularly until his parents’ divorce when he was a teenager.

Fromm said he attends the university’s chapel meetings almost every week, even though students are required to attend only about half.

“I use it as my own personal time, to gather my thoughts,” he said.