Religion and politics at Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University features several clubs and organizations affiliated with politics, and the three most prominent are the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Student Government Association. Religion affects each of these groups-whether in a direct manner through the activities they conduct, or in a more indirect manner through the influence of religion on their members. Amanda Shirk, President of the WCU College Republicans, recently discussed the topic of religion and politics with the WC. “You should think for yourself and choose what is appropriate for you,” says Shirk, so they are not too biased or focused on one spiritual point of view. “Our country was founded on religion,” she adds, and as a result, religion is an important part of many people’s lives. “We [the College Republicans] try not to affiliate religion with politics,” continues Shirk, “but we have deeply rooted religious beliefs. Our members take part in several activities related to abortion, and as a whole, we are opposed to the idea of abortion. We also support the idea that people have every right to express their religious beliefs.” President of the College Democrats, Max Long, talked to the WC about religion and politics from the point of view of his organization. “Some of our members attend religious events on campus, but we do not overlap our activities with religion,” says Long. “Instead, we focus on our agenda, our democratic ideals, and political parties on campus. Religion can serve several purposes in society, such as protests against war or abortion. “There are different voices among the members of the College Democrats,” Long continues, some of whom have strong religious beliefs and some of which do not. “We [the College Democrats] are not religious as a whole, but there are religious elements to what we do. We are an inclusive group.” Cody Grasty, President of the Student Government Association (or SGA) of Western Carolina University, recently spoke with the WC about religion and politics as it relates to the SGA. “Religion is an opinion,” says Grasty, because there are no definite standards regarding what is right and wrong. “Expression is 9/10 of the battle,” he believes, because everyone should be able to comfortably hold his or her beliefs and express them when desired. As a college, says Grasty, “WCU is open and accepting” to different religions and different religious points of view on campus. “SGA has no affiliation with religion,” Grasty told the WC. “Instead, it provides an equal opportunity for funding to clubs with (and without) religious affiliations. The goals of SGA are (1) to spread the word about various organizations and WCU, and (2) to engage the students. SGA tries to bring different clubs together for social reasons and to solve problems together.” The College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Student Government Association of Western Carolina University all have something in common-their members stand up for their religious and political beliefs as individuals and as groups without intentionally disrespecting or insulting other people who may hold different beliefs. Overall, there are some interesting connections between these three organizations and the subject of religion and politics.