Should Campus Christian Groups Be Allowed to Discriminate?





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Published on Jun 24, 2014

Should Campus Christian Groups Be Allowed to Discriminate?

Hemant Mehta (http://www.friendlyatheist.com, http://www.patreon.com/Hemant)


There's a controversy brewing at Bowdoin (bow-done) College because the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship group really wants to discriminate.

Most college have rules about how campus groups work. You have to promise to allow all students to join if they want to and you have to do a little bit of paperwork. In exchange, you get access to meeting space, a chance to advertise your group at freshmen orientations, the ability to apply for grant money, etc.

The problem with the Christian group is that, while they're open to anyone joining their group, they want to make sure that gays and lesbians and atheists and people who have premarital sex are banned from being elected to the leadership of their group. (By the way, I don't know why any decent person would even want to join a group like that, but that's another story.)

The campus says that's discrimination. Because it is. And they've revoked the group's official status. The Christians can still meet. They just don't get all the benefits of other registered groups.

As a former campus group leader, I want to sympathize with them. But I can't. Their worst case scenarios are just so outlandish.

First of all, it's not like LGBT individuals and atheists are rushing to join Campus Crusade for Christ. If we go, it's only to observe. And maybe laugh.

Second, even if there were gays and lesbians in the group, the Christian groups still have to elect them to leadership for any of this to be a problem.

As far as I know, there have been zero examples of, you know, atheists joining Intervarsity Christian Fellowship en masse, voting themselves into the group's leadership roles, dismantling the group, and then claiming victory. That's happened never.

I also want to point out that non-Christian groups -- like the Jewish Hillel organization or any atheist group -- they have no problem allowing people who think differently from them from joining the group or getting elected to leadership. As long as they support the mission of the groups, who cares? It's entirely possible that a nominal Christian who supports church/state separation and skepticism could be a valuable asset to an atheist group.

This whole controversy is really about Christians wanting special privileges that other groups would never even consider. They want to be able to discriminate at a public university because that's what Jesus taught them.

Make no mistake: This is purely a Christian phenomenon. No other campus groups are running around trying to figure out ways to keep people out of their group leadership. It's absurd. And it shouldn't be tolerated. And I'm glad Bowdoin is refusing to cave in on this issue.

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