Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union

There's a title that will throw the sidebar out.

Educationet, the website and forum for UK student politics, reports that the Evangelical Christian Union is taking the Exeter Students' Guild decision to disallow that group's affiliation to judicial review. The Guild contends that the ECU's insistance on members signing "a statement of belief in Jesus as their God and saviour and officials to sign a more comprehensive statement of belief" (BBC News) is discriminatory; the ECU contends that the Guild is discriminatory in not allowing them to practice their religion.

Two things jump out at me from the BBC News article. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says:
the refusal by some student unions to recognise evangelical Christian groups looked like a "fear of open argument"
Why does that not apply to the Evangelicals? I was under the impression that one of the raisons d'être of evangelism was converting people. That might involve, er, open argument. If you close of the possibility of changes in your own opinions that might lead to the original statement no longer being valid, you do shoot yourself in the foot somewhat.

Although I don't think Dr Williams would have seen it in this context, it effectively excludes members of other faiths from joining. What if an American society was set up, and only Americans could join?

Secondly, the ECU are saying to the Guild that they must accept any society as a member of the Guild. The Guild are saying that they must abide by the rules and accept any member as part of the society. As the timeline linked to above shows, the ECU have been losing out whenever their case is put to the vote, including a referendum of all students.

Frankly, I think the ECU should sod off.
The requirement they impose is, I presume, a means to stop people they are concerned about entering the society and changing it. If that is a group's intention, I doubt signing a piece of paper is going to hold them back. The end result is that they are spending money on a court case that makes them and, by association, other Evangelicals, Christians and religious types generally, look weak, extremist and intolerant which just increases the tensions between more religious people and those they accuse of being rampant secularists and the like. It also leads to problems when someone turns around on campus, if the Guild's side lose, to test the ECU's commitment to religious freedom by setting up the Anti-Evangelical Society.

If you want a more conspiratorial post, there'll be one about Bob Darke's book, The Communist Technique in Britain, shortly - see (1), (2) and (3) in the meantime.



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