Sunday, 19 November 2006

Christian Unions

Don't get me wrong. I don't really have much time for University Christian Unions: I still remember the look on the guy's face who knocked on my door one evening in college when I told him I was not a Christian, just a Catholic. I know they can be intolerant and can veer towards fundamentalism: but I am opposed to this attempt to disaffiliate the CU at Exeter and indeed elsewhere (as noted today by Tom Paine).

The main reason given seems to be this:

The CU said it appeared that unless it disassociated itself from the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowships, and stopped asking committee members and speakers to sign a declaration, it could be permanently banned from the guild.
The declaration includes the phrase: "In joining this union, I declare my faith in Jesus Christ as my Saviour, my Lord and my God".
Guild of Students President Jemma Percy said the requirement to sign the declaration meant "participation in the society was not open to every student".

She said: "We have a duty to represent them and uphold equal opportunities."

I don't really know where to start with the intolerance and bigotry of this justification. The Guild of Students is saying that no organisation can exist under their umbrella which asks people to believe in something. So how do the Gay and Lesbian, Humanist, Islamic and Doctor Who socs get away with it then? They are suggesting that Christians should not be able to freely associate at the university or on its grounds, on the basis that it excludes people who are not Christians. Well, they don't have to join then. There are humanist societies too, which would not take kindly to Christian infiltration, where you can go if you wish.

In other words they want to proscribe the Union because people who would not want to join cannot join unless they sign a statement of belief in something they don't believe in. Meanwhile organisations do exist where they can go.

So how is anyone excluded here?

The Guild of Students representative, quoted above, neatly provides a fine instance of slavish adherence to an abstract principle, to the clear detriment of actual people. No suffering or harm is caused by the exclusion of people who do not want to join the CU from the CU. But the principle itself is offended, and that is enough. It is a good example of extremism, in fact.

It is in fact, example of people in power forcing their narrow views onto others, and abusing their position.

But I am not so naive as to think that the stated reason is the real one. The real one is "we hate the CU because we think they are a bunch of loudmouth ignorant bigots". Fine. So argue your point on that basis, instead of lying about it.

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