BYU has over 30,000 students with the majority belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But according to the assistant dean to Student Life, 1% of the student body are not members of the Church.
For many college students at BYU, adjusting to a new environment can be challenging. But what is that experience like when you are not a member of the Church?
It’s no secret BYU attracts members of the Church, but it is also home to students of other beliefs and religions such as Roman Catholic, Islam, Greek Orthodox and agnostic. For these students, their experience includes adjusting to a different religious setting.
“And I was like wait, what’s going on? What did I get myself into? But then after coming here and actually seeing the people, people here are really nice,” Roman Catholic student Javi de los Reyes said.
The students mentioned many of the people here at BYU are kind and inviting. But students of other faiths are often faced with push from members to be converted to the Church.
“Some people are very educated to other backgrounds, especially those who serve missions, and some people are not educated at all and they are just trying to convert me,” Greek Orthodox Christian student Jack Abumanneh said.
“Just because I am here doesn’t mean I am interested in joining the church,” agnostic student Jay Cui said.
Another challenge some nonmembers face is the inability to share in common emotions and experiences as members, such as celebrating a mission call.
“Obviously I get lonely because there are many events I don’t share the same emotions as everyone else,” Cui said.
Nonmembers at BYU have a different challenge of being a religious minority when coming to school. Most of them want for their peers to be open and understanding to their beliefs.
“My advice is just be open try to learn the religion, it’s always good to learn,” de los Reyes said.
“I believe in Jesus as you believe in Jesus, and it’s the same thing,” Abumanneh said.
As members of this campus community, everyone can work a bit harder to understand and listen to views different from their own. While the number of nonmember students on campus is a very small portion, their perspectives still matter.