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Bible-giving at UPLB raises Internet stir

By Maricar Cinco Inquirer Souther n Luzon 10:08 pm | Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 SAN PEDRO, Laguna—They say the best things in life are free but not everyone was happy when the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) gave away free Christian bibles at its freshman activity. Dozens of comments flooded the Internet after one student posted the incident on “Narinig ko sa UP (Overheard at UP)” on Sunday. The account is an open group of UP students and alumni on Facebook with 74,128 members as of Wednesday. The bible distribution took place on Sunday morning during the freshman campus tour facilitated by the UPLB Office of Student Affairs (OSA) before school opening. “The (OSA) director announced they were about to give free bibles and started distributing these blue, pocket-sized books to the freshmen,” said Jerome Dulin, a fresh graduate, who was there to observe. A sophomore, who refused to be named, said given away to about 2,500 freshmen were Gideon bibles that contained the New Testament, Book of Proverbs and Book of Psalms. He said he was present at the activity as a volunteer and heard OSA director Dr. Leticia Afuang talk to students about “praying to God.” “The freshmen simply took them but one Muslim student reacted when he was handed the Christian bible. He said he thought UP was secular,” the sophomore said. A freshman Catholic student, interviewed by phone, said the students felt embarrassed to refuse the bibles, but he, too, was surprised. “And I thought UP was neutral (about religious beliefs),” he said. UPLB chancellor Dr. Rex Cruz, in a phone interview, said he was not aware of the incident and would have to consult UP’s legal office if any policy was violated. “But off the top of my head, it was just like giving away freebies that if the students didn’t want, they could throw away,” said Cruz. The OSA, he said, “did not insist” on giving the bibles to the freshmen. “But I think the students took them just as another source of information,” he said. Cruz said the current student population of UPLB is composed predominantly of Born Again Christians and Catholics.

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