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Harvard Punishes Well-Respected Christian Student Club

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

A well-respected Christian student organization at Harvard University has been placed on probation after they allegedly forced a bisexual woman to resign from a leadership position for dating a woman.

The Crimson reports that Harvard College Faith and Action was put on “administrative probation” for a year. The group is the largest Christian fellowship on campus.

According to an email obtained by the student newspaper, the college found the Christian ministry “had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined” in the student policy guide.

The Crimson reports that the incident involves a former assistant Bible course leader who was asked to step down from leadership after it was discovered she was dating another female student.

The newspaper points out such a decision would be a violation of the student handbook “which stipulates recognized campus student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of ‘sexual orientation.’”

Harvard did not confirm or deny whether that particular incident was cause for the administrative probation.

I reached out to Scott Ely and Molly Richmond, co-presidents of the Christian group. They clearly want to focus on ministry – and not the controversy.

“We simply hope that our group is able to continue living out our faith among the diversity of religious groups on Harvard’s campus as we have over the past decade,” they wrote to me in an email.

The issue is whether Harvard will allow Christian clubs and organizations to set leadership requirements based on their particular religious beliefs.

According to the Crimson, the bisexual student was pressured to resign because of a “theological disagreement” related to the group’s character standards.

“Our theological view is that – for professing Christians who are in leadership – celibacy is the only option outside the bounds of marriage,” Ely and Richmond wrote in a statement to the student newspaper. “We have applied and do apply this policy regardless of sexual orientation.”

Earlier in the month Harvard College Faith and Action ran afoul of liberals for hosting a speech by Jackie Hill-Perry, a well-known ex-gay Christian speaker.

The Crimson editorial board accused the Christian group of giving a “platform to homophobia, conversion therapy and hate.”

The editorial board, wrote in an op-ed titled, “HCFA Gives Hate a Platform, that promoting conversion therapy 'is not a productive use of First Amendment rights.'”

Folks, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under assault at Harvard. And it's time for every church-going person in America to stand alongside these dear college-age believers. 

I contend that student organizations should have the right to determine leadership qualifications without interference from the student newspaper or college administrators.

Gay rights groups, for example, should be able to select their leaders using whatever criteria they wish. Should they be compelled to offer leadership roles to supporters of conversion therapy? Of course not.

Likewise, College Republicans should not be forced to accept Democrats as leaders and vice versa.

But clearly, that is not the case when it comes to Christian groups. Followers of Christ are expected to renounce their beliefs for the sake of university policy.

In other words, Harvard’s non-discrimination policy discriminates against Christians.

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