STAFF EDITORIAL: Reconstruct Theology 1001 for non-Christians

For many non-Roman Catholic students at Marquette, Theology 1001 is downright confusing. Those who weren’t brought up with the stories of Abraham or David, and aren’t familiar with Christian doctrine can find themselves straining through a semester, while those raised with a Christian background have an easier time.

In addition, half of Marquette students aren’t Catholic, according to a university census. That’s a big chunk of the student body who may find themselves struggling in the class.

For these reasons, Theology 1001 needs to be revamped. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Marquette should be inclusive of all faiths in its classes.

This is not to say the university should downplay its Catholicism, but rather accommodate its changing demographics.

The theology department noticed this problem, too.

Deirdre Dempsey, director of undergraduate studies in the theology department, is chair of the Theology 1001 Revision Committee, created this semester.

Dempsey said roughly 20 years ago, nearly 75 percent of Marquette’s students were Roman Catholic. Now, the number has dropped significantly, to 50 percent.

“We’re trying to adapt to how the university has changed and teach it accordingly,” Dempsey said.

The committee plans to increase the number of readings Theology 1001 professors teach, as well as shorten them, giving a broader base for students without a background in Christianity.

They also want to strengthen students’ vocabulary and knowledge of integral Bible stories for upper-division courses, Dempsey said.

These are positive solutions, and welcome attempts to ease students’ transition into Christian doctrine.

Taking things one step further, the Tribune editorial board proposes dividing Theology 1001 into two classes — one set up for students without a strong Christian background, to help them transition and learn more about foundational teachings.

Another class would be dedicated to Christian catechesis, tailored for those raised with a strong Christian background. These students could advance their knowledge of other religions.

Two Theology 1001 classes aren’t meant to divide the student body between Catholics and non-Catholics, but rather to provide extra help for those who need it.

As students graduate from this course, they will be more prepared to take upper-division classes. Futhermore, students can opt for either class.

In a school where 50 percent of the students identify as non-Catholic Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other, Marquette should be as accommodating and inclusive as possible to further our Jesuit ideals.