Northwest Christian University Class President Reveals He's an Atheist

Eric Fromm says he's surprised for all the support he has received.

ByABC News
November 11, 2013, 4:28 PM
Eric Fromm, a student from a Christian university in Oregon, revealed he's an atheist.
Eric Fromm, a student from a Christian university in Oregon, revealed he's an atheist.
Sarah Halstead/NCU

Nov. 11, 2013— -- A student from a Christian university in Oregon ditched the privacy of the confessional and went public about his faith, writing in the school newspaper: "I am an atheist. Yes, you read that correctly, I am an atheist."

Eric Fromm, 21, a senior at Northwest Christian University in Eugene published his thoughts about not believing in God in the Beacon Bolt, the student-run online newspaper -- despite the fact that his university is a Christian school.

Although Fromm didn't share the religious beliefs as the school, he said in his post he decided to enroll because Northwest Christian had a "solid communications program."

"Before I enrolled, I visited the campus to make sure that the chapel services were comfortable enough that I could fulfill the requirement," he said. "No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay."

But Fromm didn't feel at peace.

"Every day I'm burdened by the fact that my peers might reject me because I'm different from them. I won't be rejected because of my race or social class, but simply because of the fact that I don't believe in God -- because I am an atheist," wrote Fromm in his post.

However, the support he received from the school, from friends, and even online came as a surprise to him.

"I was expecting for it to be non-accepting and I was very afraid of it," Fromm told ABC News.

"Eric's story within the blog post isn't a surprise to us," said Jeannine Jones, director of university relations at NCU. "Eric and his journey to his faith is central to our mission."

According to NCU's website, the school's mission is to "foster wisdom, faith and service through excellent academic programs within a Christ-centered community."

"We seek to highlight our Christian identity in ways that unite Christians everywhere, and not in ways that tend to cause division between various groups of Christians. In this spirit, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and we proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world," NCU's website said."

"All of our students are on a journey," Jones said. "While the majority of our students profess a Christian faith, not all do. We as an institution meet students were they are at and believe that our God is big enough."

Within a few hours of when "Lifting the Curtain" was posted, it went viral and comments from around the web started to appear in support of Fromm.

"I'm startled how people can be so judgmental especially Christians for the love of God," wrote "Julie," a commenter in the Beacon Bolt.

All the way from Iceland another reader commented:

"I have to admit it's a bit strange that people take it so personal just to see that you are a atheist. Nothing wrong with that. It's not like it makes you a bad person at all," wrote "Guðni – Ísland."

Fromm said people on campus have been extremely supportive.

"I actually have gotten more hugs than ever before. It's a very strange thing," Fromm told ABC News

Fromm said, however, that along with the support from his school and friends he has also received criticism, mostly from a local paper that picked up on the story, the Eugene Register-Guard. However, he said he said he was not going to read those comments.

A commenter from the Register-Guard, posted:

"Atheists actions are quite contradictory. First, they say their lives are like a drop in the ocean. That is, their lives and their actions are but an accident and also insignificant in the whole scheme of things. YET, they go about advertising and preaching their OWN INSIGNIFICANCE?" wrote a poster identified as "AhContraire."

Fromm said he wrote the article to set the record straight.

During his senior year he was asked to help teach a mandatory first-year seminar for freshmen at NCU. He was asked not only because of his seniority, but also because he was the president of the student body. The goal was to address student's concerns from the experience of a fellow student who had already been in their shoes.