As has often been the case at DePaul over the years, external religious groups unaffiliated with the university have been attempting to recruit students on both the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses recently. Public Safety has sent cease and desist letters to at least two groups recently for actively recruiting on campus without permission: University Bible Fellowship and Chicago International Christian Church. If students are approached by one of these groups and feel uncomfortable or threatened, they should refrain from providing personal information, and then report the encounter to Public Safety.
University Ministry protocol and DePaul policies prohibit religious groups from recruiting or offering programs on campus unless they are recognized as an official student religious group and registered with the Office of Student Involvement, or are in partnership with University Ministry staff.
The groups are known to use aggressive tactics, as well as pose as current students or members of student organizations when they are not, in order to persuade students to attend a bible study or join the church. Students at Brownstone’s, the Schmitt Academic Center, the Richardson Library and the Loop campus elevators are typically targeted.
These events have caused University Ministry, which oversees campus religious, faith, spiritual and Vincentian service activity across three offices (Catholic Campus Ministry, the Office of Religious Diversity and the Vincentian Community Service Office) to discern the difference between proselytizing and evangelizing.
From a DePaul perspective, proselytizing is the use of coercion, constraint or pressure in an attempt to convert others to one’s religious beliefs or practices, while evangelizing is an attempt to share one’s religion through relationship, leaving the listeners free to make up their own minds about another’s beliefs. Proselytizing is manipulative and/or threatening, while evangelism is respectful, transparent and non-threatening. Students, faculty and staff should keep these differences in mind when they engage in conversations about religion on campus.