Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 1:00 pm
By Amanda Helt
Photo by Colton Brown
One of the first questions students are asked when applying to Northwest University is a question about their faith. A list of denominations is written in a small box asking students to select their affiliation.
NU is affiliated with the Assemblies of God (AG) – a popular Pentecostal denomination. Despite the university’s affiliation, fewer than 30 percent of students identify as AG.
According to NU’s 2014 statistics, 554 of 1,881 students declared an AG affiliation, 406 students declared nondenominational, and 316 students declared “other” or “unknown.”
“I believe that’s surprising since it’s an AG school,” said 22-year-old junior Jennifer Healy. “But I like nondenominational churches, too.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Keefer, 23, identifies as nondenominational. She said this has led to some difficult moments in classes. “In class, when one professor made a comment about speaking in tongues, he said some things I disagree with,” Keefer said. “I’m pretty sure he made half the class feel uncomfortable.”
Keefer said she has had difficulties discussing her beliefs outside of class, as well.
“When I’m talking about my beliefs, [people] all of a sudden get real quiet,” Keefer said. “It’s like they are saying, ‘Either be baptized in the Spirit or we don’t want to be friends.’ People here are so mean to [people with different beliefs].”
Jon Leong, NU’s admissions coordinator, told The Talon that in order to attend NU, in most cases you must profess a relationship with Jesus Christ. Doctoral, MBA and Masters students are not required to sign the faith statement, he said.
Leong made clear there are exceptions for some undergrads to attend NU if they are not Christian. His staff always lets those students know ahead of time that the classes are taught by Christian professors and are Christ focused.
According to Leong, the way classes are set up is “not trying to force Christ,” although many students who come in as non-believers get saved.