Vol. IV No. 13 - Saturday March 26 - April 1. 2005
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LETTERS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Religious instruction concerns

Mott reaching the stars

Religious instruction concerns

The Editor,

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.

Grant Waldman

Payap’s Reply:

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 traditions.

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


Mott reaching the stars

Hi there!

Really enjoyed the Ariel/Luther retrospective. Just to let you know the old boy has put together The Ariel Bender Band and is speaking to promoters right now re a tour of UK and Europe.

I’m the singer in the group and the material is drawn from Spooky Tooth/Widowmaker/Floodgates and of course Mott.

Members of the band have worked with The Christians, Marmalade and members of Guns ‘N’ Roses amongst others.

It’s sounding hot and Luther is very much together and ‘hungry for it’ in his words.

Luther and I recently played at the Greg Ridley Memorial show and went down a storm. There are a couple of reviews on Greg’s site and www.spookytooth.com I believe.

Cheers,

Marc Eden (Ariel Bender Band)