Honest to God’ discussion group to bring insight

by Danielle WallingStaff Writer

A new open discussion group called “Honest to God” has become part of the Religious Life Community. The meetings will take place for four Wednesday evenings starting Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The next three meetings will occur March 5, 19 and 26.

Chris Waddle, chaplain and director of church relations, has come up with the group that will allow students to bring any questions and concerns they have about religion into an open discussion environment where the issues will be talked about and worked through.

“I want to create a place where people can ask any question,” Waddle said.

The group hopes to be a safe zone where students will not be criticized or graded on their questions and concerns.

The groups are designed to create a place of critique and a sense of deepened faith. It will give students a chance to say or ask whatever they want.

“Students need someone to share their frustrations with,” Waddle said.

Waddle came up with the idea for “Honest to God” through talking to some students in his classes, sending out a sign-up sheet and seeing other programs and getting to the essence of them. Waddle thought it important to strip away the details of other groups and get to the important part of each, and that was the open discussion each group entailed.

Reverend Angela Gafford Asmus, chaplain and director of Religious Life Community, thinks this group will be a valuable asset to the Simpson community. It’s an environment outside of the classroom where students can open up and will not be shot down.

“People are scared to be honest,” Gafford Asmus said. “We need to create places where people can be honest.”

The idea of an open forum is also appealing to students.

Junior Michaela Snyder feels that students go through a lot of changes in college, are away from their home faith communities and are learning that having questions is an acceptable thing.

“Questions are more acceptable now that we’re at college,” Snyder said. “It’s nice to have someone on campus who is qualified to answer questions.”

Waddle and Gafford Asmus feel that there are many questions about religion on campus on the idea of an afterlife, the need to go to church, the meaning of following Jesus and interpersonal conflict.

Waddle has not prepared a formal outline for the meetings. The point of the group is to take questions and concerns as they come.

“The point is to be honest,” Waddle said. “There will be wisdom in the group.”

Waddle hopes he will learn to be a better pastor by hearing the questions and concerns of students. He also hopes students will be able to help each other by having an open discussion. If the group is successful, Waddle hopes to continue the sessions next semester.