Tufts University: banning Christians is “in keeping with Tufts’ commitment to a diverse and welcoming campus community and to a vibrant spiritual life on campus”

Some time ago I learned that Tufts University in the USA had decided to ban the Christian Union.  The excuses made for such bigotry may amuse the educated reader, but need not concern us.  But today I received an email, under the name of Dr Anthony Monaco, President of the University, of which I give the body here.

I am writing to update you on the status of the recognition of the Tufts Christian Fellowship. The Committee on Student Life has now issued its decision with respect to the derecognition of TCF by the judicial arm of our student government.  A message to the campus community from the Co-Chairs of the Committee on Student Life, announcing the decision, appears below and includes a link to the text of the decision itself.  The Tufts Daily opinion piece by the Committee Co-Chairs further explaining the Committee’s rationale for its decision is now available at http://blogs.tuftsdaily.com/?p=8815/

I believe that the CSL’s thoughtful decision is in keeping with Tufts’ commitment to a diverse and welcoming campus community and to a vibrant spiritual life on campus.

And below is the following, inter alia.  The emphases are mine.

The CSL found that the TCUJ had acted in accordance with available policy, and thus acted appropriately in de-recognizing the TCF. The appeal, however, identified a void in policy which led the CSL to explore the conditions under which Student Religious Groups (SRGs) could select for leadership exemplars of their faith based on characteristics not necessarily shared by all SRG members. The CSL determined that SRGs should be permitted to select leaders based on doctrinal requirements.

In certain cases, criteria for leadership positions may conflict with Tufts University’s nondiscrimination policy. As religion itself is protected under the nondiscrimination policy, conflicts may be unavoidable. The CSL has carefully crafted a policy to support the University’s commitments to safeguarding spiritual life on campus and maintaining an environment that upholds the nondiscrimination policy.

From this point forward, all SRGs must justify on doctrinal grounds any departures from Tufts’ nondiscrimination policy in that their leadership positions require. The University Chaplain will evaluate the justification, and if satisfied that the described criteria for leadership are required by a given religion, will allow the SRG to apply to the TCUJ for recognition.

In evaluating applications for recognition, the TCUJ will ensure that any such approved criteria are explicitly described in easy-to-understand language. This language will be consolidated, summarized, and made available to the community via the University Chaplaincy webpage. The TCF is now welcome to reapply to the TCUJ for recognition in accordance with this new policy.

While the CSL’s jurisdiction extends only to the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, the University’s senior administration will work with the University Chaplain and school leadership to apply this policy University-wide.

In plain language, this seems to mean, “We will require every Christian group to obtain the approval of the chaplaincy before we will consider whether it may be allowed to operate.  And then we’ll see.”  The newly minted policy is here.  Whether it is constitutional might reasonably be enquired.

It looks to my ignorant eyes as if the university intends to keep the Christian Union over the fire for a good long time while various people with no judicial training (the chaplaincy again appears in this role) scrutinise whether or not the Christians might, or might not, be allowed to operate as a university society.

If so, this is a further evil.  Ezra Levant pithy remarked, of the pseudo-legal proceedings to which he was subjected, “the process is the punishment”.  Likewise in Arthur Bryant’s three volume life of Samuel Pepys, he describes how Pepys, facing politically motivated accusations, was kept from reaching trial for term after term by repeated deferrals.  In one case his political opponents joked that they had kept him “by the heels for another term.”

But, as a foreigner, I am mildly baffled.  In the USA there used to be a constitutional principle called freedom of religion.  As far as I remember, it said nothing about requiring the approval of chaplains, or bishops, or licensers.  Indeed I rather thought that it explicitly prohibited the establishment of such things by the state and its organs?

This process of harassment, remember, has been described by the university president as “thoughtful” and “in keeping with Tufts’ commitment to a diverse and welcoming campus community” — hmm — “and to a vibrant spiritual life on campus”.

Quite so!  And my only feeling on reading those words was one of gratitude.  For I am deeply grateful that the task of feeding my family has never placed me in a position where I am obliged to utter Kafkaesque statements like this.

To any free man, the very idea of having his brains strained for conformity to some arbitrary orthodoxy by minor officials is repugnant.  But the phrases chosen may be read two ways.  This is probably not accidental.  Indeed it often happens in unfree societies, where prolixity and obscurity may be the only security of a slave.  On the one hand the words seem very like the evasions practiced by those who know that they are doing wrong and yet are determind to do it anyway.  But possibly they may be the stock phrases uttered by a slave who is trying to do the right thing, and fears a beating.  It is hard to decide which is the case.  And the answer might vary, day by day.

The Christian Union, at any rate, has no security under these arrangements.  That, no doubt, is intentional; to weary, to wear down, to confuse, delay, harass … all the tricks of the persecutor who knows that what he does is wrong and would not be endorsed by society at large, yet is determined to do it anyway.

What is clear is that Tufts University urgently needs reform, and an external commission of inquiry.  In a free country, a confessional university may reasonably require that those who run it share its ethos; and those who attend it at least do not set out to undermine it.  But that is not the case here; the university professes to welcome everyone.  Yet surely, in a free country, no university of this kind paid for by public funds should be permitted to conduct a religious persecution, or to set up a religious inquisition, or to interfere with the enquiry of young minds into every form of normal or mainstream intellectual life and practice?  Any “non-discrimination policy” that ends in banning mainstream Christian groups is a nonsense, and must be abolished.  May I suggest that the withdrawal of funds by the state would probably be the most desirable immediate aim?

We can see in this that some wretched souls at Tufts — possibly including the president and the chaplain — have set out to do harm to God’s people.  In the process they have revealed that only the Christian Union, on the campus, is actually following in the footsteps of He who said that his followers would be hated.[1]  Those who are to say, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, in this corrupt age, will be accused of all sorts of things!

God knows those who set out to do harm, even if we do not.  These people, of course, are about to undergo suffering at the hands of God.  For even the unbeliever has heard of karma.  The more educated know that the measure you give is the measure you get.  We should pray for them, that their suffering will bring them to realise their need for a saviour.

In the mean time, let us give thanks to God that the TCF has been found worthy to suffer for His Name, and that those who hate Him have proclaimed so powerfully at Tufts University their faithfulness.  And let us pray for them, and their national body, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, that God will give them wisdom and grace.

It is, after all, rather a compliment to be endorsed as the only Christian body on site to be faithful to Christ.  For what else, in truth, is alleged against them?!

UPDATE (7/12/12): I see that there is a press-release at the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship site here.

  1. [1]http://bible.cc/john/15-18.htm

8 thoughts on “Tufts University: banning Christians is “in keeping with Tufts’ commitment to a diverse and welcoming campus community and to a vibrant spiritual life on campus”

  1. This is actually a major victory. Previously, the student group was kicked off campus for “discriminating” against those who didn’t hold their views. This is an added flexibility in the policy, which previously had forbidden them from requiring leaders to have certain beliefs. This ruling enables the Tufts Christian Fellowship to remain on campus

  2. Also, it should be noted that Tufts is a private university, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply, except as a principle of common sense that should be followed.

  3. It doesn’t look like a “victory” to me, but then it is very hard to read between the lines to see what the reality is. To my eyes, accustomed to corporate announcements, it seems full of poisoned spikes.

    We need merely substitute some other group for the Christians, to see the state of affairs. Let us imagine that Tufts decided that blacks couldn’t be admitted, under some pretext or other. And then that there was a mild outcry, so they modified their policy so that they could be admitted, but only if they satisfied the chaplain that they were of good character and unlikely to do Black Things in public. Would the latter be considered a good thing? Would they be allowed to get away with that, do you think? Or is it not rather a confirmation of the institutional bias, that Christians must pass an inquisition in order to be allowed to associate and worship?

    As for Tufts being “a private university”, I’m not sure that I know what this means. If it means that the university takes no money from taxpayers, and has the choice whether to admit blacks or not, then of course they would likewise have the freedom to discriminate against Christians. That’s what private property means. But I have some doubts that this is the case. In fact I have doubts that the US ruling class allows this, private property or not. And if we substitute “Christians”, or “Jews”, or any other unpopular minority into that sentence, it doesn’t change the reality.

    (I have edited the name field in the comments above to be innocuous).

  4. May I draw the attention of new visitors to the comments policy, at the foot of About this blog? This is not a forum, but more like my online diary. Thoughtful and polite comments are welcome. Belligerent comments by anonymous strangers will simply be deleted.

    Likewise … engage with the post, people. I’m not interested in reading the kind of weasel words that activists churn out in our day. These smooth falsehoods are designed, not to inform, but merely to deflect opposition to some self-interest action or other, and to confuse the unwary. This cynical tactic is now pretty threadbare, and those doing it can do it elsewhere.

  5. Historically, the ‘real’ Disciples have always had to use premises other than official ones to meet in. Personally I feel it’s no loss to a group for them to be banned from official premises; it just means that they are less fettered by officialdom, rather than more. Having said that, you’re right in that these tactics are getting a bit threadbare, and in fact for those used to seeing them they are getting a little boring. Predictable and boring; these people would make very poor chess players. Truly there is no creative thought in the bureaucratic mindset.

  6. To some extent I agree. In fact this whole idea of control of student groups by the university seems repellent to me. Let people do what they want. But once we realise that the students are taxed to provide facilities, it is very hard indeed to be forced to pay for them yet prevented from using them.

  7. (I just saw the following on the net.)

    when DIVERSITY becomes PERVERSITY

    The UNIVERSITY now prides itself on DIVERSITY. But watch out when DIVERSITY becomes PERVERSITY. That’s when God will bring His CURSE-ITY on the whole world (see Malachi 4:6 – NIV)!

  8. The abuse of the word “diversity” to mean “only those who endorse what the authorities endorse will be permitted to exist” is pretty typical of our age. More honest people would call it what it is; bigotry.

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