Sunday, November 19, 2006

Religion On The British Campus

How very sad that it has gone this far:

A series of student unions have sought to regulate, restrict or simply ban what were previously recognised as official societies that practised Christianity.

Three cases have acquired prominence. Birmingham University Christian Union was banned from the list of accredited societies after it refused to amend its constitution to permit non-Christians to become executive committee members. The Exeter Univers-ity Christian Union has been ordered by its student union to rename itself the Evangelical Christian Union and has been suspended until it complies. At Edinburgh University, the Christian Union faces sanctions after it was accused of adopting a Bible-based programme on human relationships that deems homosexuality to be undesirable. These prohibitions mean that the organisations concerned are denied access to money, union facilities and a forum to publicise their activities...

Tolerance is, or rather should be, a street in which the traffic flows in two directions. Universities are establishments in which ideas are supposed to be incubated and exchanged, championed and challenged. A student union should be a forum in which that philosophical debate takes place and not a body that takes it upon itself to determine which arguments are acceptable or sufficiently “right” to be allowed an audience. A blinkered secularism is no better than theological dogmatism.

There must also be the legitimate suspicion that Christianity is regarded as a “soft target” by union activists. It is doubtful whether student bodies of other faiths would be informed that they had to accept those who did not wish to uphold their beliefs as executive committee members or have their termcards scrutinised for perceived slights against homosexuality.

The subtitle of the article? "A secular society that demands tolerance should also show tolerance."


EllenK said...

So are these well meaning bigots also limiting Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Shinto religious organizations as well? Is this just another way to be like France? I mean, it's working so well for them being so secular and all.....

Darren said...

The final paragraph I quoted shows they're only going after Christians, whom they see as "soft targets".

And you're right about France :-)

allen said...

Oh, I think a little creativity might enhance the scholastic atmosphere nicely.

Perhaps a variation on the affirmative action bake sale in which the price of the cookies was a function of race with the discriminatory/affirmative action price list prominently displayed.

One obvious response might be to extend the hand of tolerance by assuming membership in the offended organizations with the intent of running for their executive committees. What possible objection could the campus communist organizations have to a recording secretary who's a committed Christian? I'm sure an evening or two of brainstorming would result in more, fun ideas.

A Christian at Exeter University said...

The reason students at Exeter are not limiting the Islamic society is that it does not exclude Muslims. The reason they is not restricting the Jewish society is that it does not discriminate against Jews.

The Evangelical Christian Union at Exeter actively discriminates against Christians from non-evangelical backgrounds. It is therefore entirely reasonable for the students to decide it should be called the Evangelical Christian Union rather than the Christian Union.

Darren said...

Thank you for your first-hand account.

I'm curious, though--if evangelical christians did to the Muslim Student Union what Allen above suggested, what do you think the result would be?

rightwingprof said...

That nonsense is going on here. As far as the Muslims not "discriminating" against Jews, the "student union" should send a few Jews to join, and see what happens.

Er, maybe not. They don't want their heads sawed off with dull swords.

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Great Britain! I can only hope that they would likewise restrict the hateful practices of other religions, as rightly EllenK suggests.

Anyone willing to take an unvarnished look at cultural reality will be left to wonder: Is religion the root of all evil?

Check that reference, Darren; it has a whole section on Colorado Springs.

There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion.

Why is it that religionists rely so heavily on the instruments of the state to convey their "godly message"?

Darren said...


Your first paragraph made sense. After that I can only assume you were overwhelmed by the gases in the fever swamp that you obviously inhabit. You and I must live in different versions of reality, as your last two sentences make no sense to me as someone who lives in the United States.

John S. said...

On the surface it seems completely understandable why many would find outrage to what has transpired at Exeter, however, the person from Exeter confirmed that the Christian organizations there are exclusionary (even toward themselves—classic). As for the scenario concerning a Christian running for executive membership for an Islamic organization, well, it seems silly. I think you may, perhaps, while trying to make a valid point, have theorized a rather unlikely scenario. The issue is not whether a person of one faith should belong to other organizations or serve in leadership, but whether they could. Naturally, your scenario would result in the Muslim populace of the organization voting against the Christian serving. Still, at least the Christian could run/appeal within that organization while non-Christians could not run/appeal in Christian organizations. Likewise, at Exeter, Evangelicals goes as far as to exclude any non-Evangelical (to make a stretch, I guess Raleigh’s spirit of disdain for other Christian denominations lives on in Exeter).

John S. said...

Christians, seem to complain a lot about equal treatment, discrimination, and persecution (ridicule notwithstanding). Perhaps they have a real grievance, never really thought about it until now. Therefore, here is my unwanted opinion wherein I will make no sense and probably insult somebody. I cannot really think of any other time in the white settlement of North America’s history that has witnessed such a time of Christian renaissance, even surpassing the Awakenings—at least the second! Indeed, that such talk has come from the Christian community, at least indicated here, and others seems to verify it. Sure, many case samples exist were discrimination is overwhelming real and I am sure any one with internet and a search engine could find some. Still, I think the Christians, historically and worldwide, have been the ones doing the most violent persecuting and instituting of discriminatory practices: see Inquisition, With Hunts, Salem, Crusades, Hitler’s conception of Aryanism and the resulting Holocaust, the KKK’s Christian mantras, Christian Identity terrorists, Irish Protestants bombing Catholics and vice versa, etc, etc. Of course it is RIDICULOUS to indict every Christian today for those things—most Christians (and I know MOST are great people!) would separate themselves from that as most Muslims separate themselves from fundamentalists blowing up buildings and dull knives (just like Elizabethan-era Protestants and their torture devices or a good old southern Christian gentleman whipping his slave I guess). Indeed, radical-fundamentalists are scary no matter what they believe, whether it is a Christian blowing up abortion clinics, Muslims flying planes into buildings, liberal ARL groups assaulting grandma at the rodeo—even the Buddhist Monk who torched himself in the name of peace is spooky. I only suggest an historical memory and collective historical conscience exists that taints Christians and it does not help their case when they are the group excluding people at universities while the others seemingly are not. My Christain friend always tells me to judge Christianity on Christ and not on fallible Christians. I think I now know what he means. Can’t we all get along! Tolerance and inclusion does not mean we have to forfeit our beliefs and solidarity with like members of a social group. Heck, liberals are horrible when it comes to talking tolerance and then not practicing it!

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful retort, Darren; why do I even hope for something that addresses my points? Fever swamp? Ouch!

Lest we not forget: 9-11 was a faith-based initiative.

It's not dificult to find extremists of every major religion: people willing to kill humans to settle an argument over whose imaginary friend is strongest.

What won't ever happen is a group of Athiest flying an airplane into a building whilst shouting "There is no god!"

But then again, Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Darren said...

And what government assisted this 9/11 "faith-based initiative"?

Ouch! Another mosquito from the swamp.

Anonymous said...

Fitting that you describe yourself as a mosquito. But you just bit yourself.

The term "faith-based initiative" does not require government involvement. It simply refers to an action carried out by people who feel called by their spiritual beliefs: an initiative based on faith, as it were. The wingnuts want to give good folks like Ted Haggart taxpayer money for their missions. Seems like a bad investment to me.

Now if I were I opportunistic and cynical, I would warn that considering how effective 9-11 was *without* government assistance, imagine what harm faith-based initiatives could do with tax dollar support.

But opportunistic cynicism ain't my style.

Probably best for the mosquito to retire to his swamp now.

Darren said...

Anonymous, you were the one who accused the "religionists" of wanting to use the "instruments of the state" to push their message.

Apparently you can't follow your own train of thought from one comment to the next. Probably all that swamp gas.

Take a picture, send it to me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Darren; religionists *do* want to use the instruments of the state: school prayer, intelligent design, etc.

And 9-11 was a faith-based initiative.

Two thoughts. Separate and distinct

Chew gum and walk, Darren, chew gum and walk.

Darren said...

Sorry, Dean. You're way too far out there on a limb on this one. You let your actual hatred for anything religious cloud your judgement.

Anonymous said...

No hatred, but no bowed head either. I know a guy who every bit as conservative as you, but he has no use for the evangelicals he has to share the small tent with. You might want to reexamine your own reflexive defense of them.

The amusing aspect of this story is that it's Christians discriminating against Christians, and you're siding with the discriminators. You might want to reconsider that reflex, too. Especially when you want to wrap yourself in the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But thanks for the title; what do I get to be the Dean of?

Darren said...

You make all sorts of assumptions about me that aren't based in reality--like your apparent assumption that I have any concern one way or the other for evangelicals of any religion. I don't want to be converted any more than you do.

It would be nice if, when you decided to attack me, you would do it for something that I have actually said or done, rather than for something which you assume. How many times must I ask that of you?

As for supporting "discriminators", I don't think it's unreasonable for a club of like-minded individuals to insist that the club leaders also be of the same like mind. I doubt Dr. King would disagree--if I'm wrong about that assumption, please provide a documented quote from Dr. King and I'll retract.

Until then, don't try to play the game of attempting to use my respect for Dr. King against me. It shows that, like most flaming libs, you'll stop at *nothing*, even such nastiness, to attempt to win a debating point. It's not classy, and it's not even polite. And it doesn't make me any less right or you any less wrong.

As for your title, I think we both know from whence it derives. Go take a picture.