I have a friend who attends Payap University and he has
told me something that is very disturbing to me and I think most free
thinking people. It seems that in order to graduate from Payap, a Buddhist
has to take one class a week in Christian doctrine and attend at least five
church services a semester. I call this religious blackmail and certainly
should not be allowed. If a student sees the good example from the
Christians who he or she comes in daily contact, and wants to learn more of
this religion, then it is perfectly understandable. But being forced by
threat of not graduating is no only vile but very, very un-Christian.
In the US we have many Catholic universities that do not
do this but allow the student to study religion only if he wishes. Payap
should follow this example. I even question if this practice is allowed in
Thailand. Of course, Payap provides a much needed role in the community but
this is really not acceptable. Also students from Payap get free medical
treatment at McCormick Hospital ... another Christian organization.
You can’t buy loyalty and afterwards the students will
see through this sham and hopefully not think all Christians a devious at
those at Payap.
Thank you for giving Payap University the opportunity to
respond to the concerns of your reader.
Payap University is a private Christian institution of
higher education that is a part of the Foundation of the Church of Christ in
Thailand. The University was established to “show God’s love” through
academic and ethical excellence. It is the policy of the University not to
engage in forced proselytization or in the denigration of other religious
traditions. There is an intentional and deliberate effort by the University
not to discriminate against those persons adhering to other religious
The course referred to in the letter to the editor
probably refers to AR 100, which is a course administered and taught by the
Philosophy and Religion Department. The course is a required course offered
to new students at Payap. Its purpose is to acquaint students with the
nature of Payap University as a Christian institution of higher education,
the reasons for the University’s founding, and its continuing mission. The
content does include references to the Christian Bible and Christian faith
and ethics, but the purpose is to inform — not indoctrinate — students
about the nature and purpose of their university. The course meets one hour
each week for one term.
Christian worship services are held early each morning in
the Chapel for Christian faculty and staff. Attendance at these worship
services is completely voluntary.
For students, there are seven assembly programs offered
each week throughout each term. Students are expected to attend five of
these assemblies each term. This is not a requirement for graduation but
failure to attend will result in a notation on their official transcript.
Some of these assemblies have an ethical and/or religious component; others
do not. Students are informed in advance the type of program that will be
offered and may choose which assemblies they wish to attend. The assemblies
are one way that Payap can teach and foster good ethics for daily living
which is encouraged by the national Ministry of Education.
In general, both staff and students from other religious
traditions have expressed their appreciation for being able to observe and
learn about the Christian faith and tradition while working and studying at
Payap University. The course and the assemblies are completely in accord
with the Thai government policy on religious freedom and the right of
religious-related institutions to witness to and teach about their faith.
Payap students have a health insurance policy that allows
them to receive treatment from the McCormick Hospital. (This hospital is the
provider for other health plans in Chiang Mai, as well.) Before Payap
offered the health plan to the students, we found that they were not
receiving proper or adequate medical care. Required health insurance for
students is a common practice around the world.
I hope this helps to clarify the position of Payap
University regarding the concerns raised by your reader. If there are
further concerns, we at Payap University would appreciate the opportunity
for personal contact and response.
Dr. Boonthong Poocharoen
President, Payap University