November 27, 2006

Bullying Christians Demand the Right to Mistreat Others On Campus...

First the letter to the editor from clerics and other religious representatives:

The Times, November 24, 2006

Student union tactics are intolerant and unlawful

Sir, Christian students at many of our universities are facing considerable opposition and discrimination in violation of their rights of freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of association. In recent times, some student guilds, in Exeter, Birmingham and Edinburgh in particular, have changed their anti-discrimination provisions to discriminate against Christian students. We believe this to be intolerant and unlawful, and that the Christian unions currently suspended by the student guilds or associations should be reinstated with full rights as a student society forthwith.

Of course university student guilds and associations have a responsibility to ensure that official societies are run in a proper and lawful manner. However, this does not give them, or anyone else, the right to restrict or change the essential beliefs of those societies, or impose as leaders people who do not share those core beliefs.

Christian union meetings and events are open to all students to attend. In fact, as faith-sharing organisations, CUs specifically invite people who do not share the Christian faith to attend their meetings. Therefore, there is no restriction imposed on who can and who cannot join the CU.

However, the executive committees of CUs act rather like charity trustees, and as such, they are responsible for two things: first, that funds donated to the CU are used only to further the stated objects, and secondly, that the object of the union, the proclamation of the Christian gospel (as understood by millions of orthodox Christians around the world), is advanced.

It would therefore be inappropriate for anyone who does not agree with the aims, objectives and beliefs to be executive committee members, although it would be totally in order for them to attend CU events, Bible studies, discussion groups or missions, and put forward their views with conviction and passion. Thus the only restrictions limit the right to amend the constitution and select leaders to those who can affirm the core beliefs of the society.

THE RIGHT REV MICHAEL SCOTT-JOYNT Bishop of Winchester, THE RIGHT REV MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI Bishop of Rochester, THE RIGHT REV PETER FORSTER Bishop of Chester, THE RIGHT REV GEORGE CASSIDY Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, THE RIGHT REV JONATHAN GLEDHILL Bishop of Lichfield, THE RIGHT REV STEPHEN VENNER Bishop of Dover, THE RIGHT REV PETE BROADBENT Bishop of Willesden, THE RIGHT REV CRISPIAN HOLLIS Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth and lead Bishop of Higher Education, LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON Former Archbishop of Canterbury, CANON DR CHRISTINA BAXTER Chairman of the House of Laity, Church of England General Synod, PROFESSOR NIGEL M. DE S. CAMERON Centre for Bioethics and Public Policy, London, PROFESSOR JOHN WYATT Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, University College London, DR DON HORROCKS Head of Public Affairs Evangelical Alliance, ANDREA MINICHIELLO WILLIAMS Public Policy Officer, Lawyers Christian Fellowship, PETER SAUNDERS General Secretary, Christian Medical Fellowship, THE REV RICHARD CUNNINGHAM Chief Executive Officer Universities & Colleges Christian Fellowship, DR PETER MAY Chairman, Universities & Colleges Christian Fellowship

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Then coverage by the National Secular Society:

Bullying Christians Demand the Right to Mistreat Others On Campus

Senior Bishops of the Church of England, and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, have defended the right of several university Christian Unions to practise discrimination against non-Christians and gay people. Unions in Exeter, Birmingham and Edinburgh have been prohibited from using university faculties and in some cases from being recognised as a club because of allegations that they are discriminating.

In a letter to The Times, the clerics used the usual tactic of presenting themselves as the victims when they have been caught out discriminating against others. “[Christian students] are facing considerable opposition and discrimination in violation of their rights of freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of association,” wrote the Anglican bishops of Winchester, Rochester, Chester, Southwell and Nottingham, Lichfield, Dover and Willesden, along with the Roman Catholic church’s lead Bishop on Higher Education, and with signatories from academics and representatives from national Christian organisations.

They claim that the Student Guilds/Associations, in Exeter, Birmingham and Edinburgh in particular, have changed their anti-discrimination provisions to discriminate against Christian students. In a complete reversal of the true situation, the bishops say the action by the Guilds is “intolerant and unlawful, and that the Christian Unions currently suspended should be re-instated with full student union society rights.”

Last Monday, Christian students at Exeter University served a Letter before Action upon the university’s Registrar, and on the Student Guild after it was suspended for being too exclusive. The letter stated that unless the CU was fully reinstated with full student society rights within 14 days, legal action would be taken against the University, the Guild and Guild officers personally, under the Human Rights Act, and that substantial damages would be claimed against them.

At Edinburgh University, a course looking at orthodox Biblical teaching on relationship, sex and marriage has been banned from being taught on campus because it recommended literature on how homosexuals can be “cured” by prayer. The Students’ Association claimed the “Pure” course was homophobic, and breached the S.A.’s and the universities anti-discrimination policies.

CU representatives are due to meet the vice-chancellor this week and a further legal letter is likely to be served.

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The central questions are: Who is bullying whom? Who is really intolerant? Who has empathy, and who shows understanding and acceptance?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

One question you might like to ask is whether this coverage from the National Secular Society will really be balanced and fair.

You will find that the Pure course does not recommend such literature.

D Hames

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Thank you for the clarification. Is it possible to list what literature the course does indeed cover?

Terry Sanderson, President, NSS said...

Perhaps you should read this letter in today’s Scotsman for a flavour of what is being pushed on campuses by these evangelical Christian Unions http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/letters.cfm?id=1761102006