First started by Franklin students in 2015, Jesus Pizza provided a safe space for students come together and talk about Jesus while enjoying free Dominos pizza. This Christian-based club was lowkey at first. Some people just came to take pizza, then they left. Recently, the previous leaders graduated and the presidency was taken over by Loghan Miller (11). Miller, a Christian herself, was excited to take part. “My hope was a safe space where kids could come and eat pizza and just listen to what they had to say. Christians and non christians welcome,” said Miller. She had been attending the youth group that purchases pizza for the club, and that sent representatives from the church to regularly speak at meetings. She had really enjoyed their worship before and thought they were a cool program. Jesus Pizza also exists at many other schools in Portland.
A few months into school, the club turnout was great. Even though there were more pizza lovers than Jesus lovers, the club was happy to have everyone anyway. Then, some issues started arise. I had never been to Jesus Pizza, and I was hungry one day so I decided to attend. Out of curiosity, I decided to ask one of the representatives a more political question. This question was about opinions on the topics of homosexuality and abortion in Christianity. Since Portland can be such a “bubble” of left-wing opinions sometimes, I was a little surprised when the answer was not similar to those typical liberal views. Views were expressed about how the church would accept people in, but would prefer if those people were to change themselves to reflect the ideals of the church. Hearing that definitely changed my thoughts on what this club stood for, and I was interested in what Miller would have to say. “I was very upset,” said Miller. “I don’t want that to represent the club.” Going forward, students such as Nik Kovacevic and friends became interested further on what those representatives would say about other more political topics, so they asked more questions, and the answers were the same in which the church spoke of homophobia and transphobia. It became clear that the views of the church representatives didn’t match Franklin’s values of acceptance.
I soon became curious on whether or not this type of club was allowed at our school. It is. In the PPS rulebook, any religious affiliation is able to come and share their beliefs as long as that group isn’t involved with the school beforehand. This rule sounds fair in terms of freedom of speech and religion, but when this compromises the comfort of another community to exist, it feels problematic.
While these beliefs are being expressed in one Christian group, it does not mean that they represent all Christians. There are so many versions of Christianity, based on so many different bibles that have been changed countless times. “[The church’s] opinions and beliefs don’t necessarily represent what everyone else believes.” said Miller. “I actually don’t like saying I’m Christian because of views that other Christians have. A lot of people have ruined religion.” For example, the Westboro Baptist church follows their own form of Christianity that is well known for being anti-gay. In Miller’s opinion, the true meaning of Christianity is to love everybody; no one should be left behind in God’s eye.
Going forward, the Jesus Pizza club can legally continue, but should not be considered a safe space for those of the LGBTQ+ community. People who are genuinely interested in conversation on political topics are encouraged to attend.