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Burning of prayer tent shows disrespect for student beliefs

Nov. 19, 1997

Early Tuesday morning, someone put an end to a controversial campus fixture. The prayer tent was set on fire with gasoline and badly burned. Earlier this semster, the Lariat editorial board addressed the prayer tent controversy after receiving letters from students. We stated that it was unnecessary for the tent to be placed in the middle of campus and that it was an unattractive addition to Baylor. Because Tidwell Bible Building has prayer facilities available to students, the prayer tent seemed pointless.

Despite our continued views about the prayer tent, we do not condone the tent's destruction. Whoever decided to take the issue into their own hands went against every Christian value that Baylor has tried to instill in us.

Just because people disagree with something does not give them the right to get rid of it. Many people on campus disagree with different issues. That is part of attending college and especially a religious-based university. Controversy makes life interesting and sparks conversations and learning experiences.

Students should feel free to express their ideas and beliefs at Baylor. They should also respect other ideas and opinions that conflict with theirs.

Whoever took part in the burning of the prayer tent showed a complete lack of respect for the students responsible for the tent. Christian or not, the people responsible for the fire blantantly ignored the principles that Baylor University and the United States of America stand for.

The students who had the prayer tent placed on campus believed in its purpose. They wanted to give students a convienent place on campus to pray.

Although the Lariat editorial board disagreed with its purpose, we said our piece and let students form their own opinions. Since then, the topic has been almost completely forgotten and students seemed to accept the prayer tent's presence on campus.

There are many more constructive ways to express beliefs than vandalism. Freedom of speech is a valuable commodity that The Baylor Lariat and Americans rely on. Instead of burning the tent, the people responsible could have come up with a better, legal way to express their feelings about the prayer tent.

As author and poet John Milton expressed in Areopagitica, the best way to combat ideas is by expressing more ideas that in effect will encourage freedom of speech.

'Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making,' Milton said.

The NoZe Brotherhood responded to the controversy with a 24-hour secular wall in protest of the prayer tent. Other students expressed their views on the Lariat Campus Opinion page, spurring others to write letters to the editor about the prayer tent as well.

When it comes down to it, whoever set fire to the tent violated the rights of Baylor students and took advantage of the rights given to them as American citizens. Hopefully, in the future, students will use these rights in a more positive and meaningful way that does not involve defacing someone else's property or breaking the law.

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