Harvard puts Christian group on probation (after asking bisexual Bible leader to resign) and then says it must sever ties with parent group

[Harvard puts Christian group on probation (after asking bisexual Bible leader to resign) and then says it must sever ties with parent group]

[Hat-tip to New Oxford Review]

Harvard Christian group put on probation after asking bisexual Bible leader to resign
Group is ‘first-ever’ to be put on probation; claims dismissal was due to ‘theological disagreement’

A Christian group at Harvard, under fire recently for hosting a controversial speaker at one of its meetings, was recently put on probation by the school administration after an investigation into an incident involving a bisexual group member.

Harvard Christian Faith in Action, the student organization recently accused of “homophobia” and “hate” for hosting an ex-gay Christian speaker at a group gathering, was given a year-long “administrative probation” after  it requested that one of its Bible study leaders resign, according to The Harvard Crimson.

The student, who resigned in September after the group leaders requested she do so, was in a same-sex relationship at the time. Group leaders said that the dismissal stemmed from a “theological disagreement” related to the organization’s character standards.

According to The Crimson, numerous members of the group, including the woman who was asked to resign, “said they believe she was not asked to step down from her position because she is bisexual. Instead, HCFA leadership pressured her to resign because she chose to actively pursue a same-sex relationship.”

While two other LGBTQ students have held leadership positions in the organization, The Crimson reports, neither pursued same-sex relationships while doing so: one was living chastely, while the other, a bisexual woman, dated a man at the time.

From the report:

It is unclear exactly what HCFA’s newfound probationary status entails.

[Group presidents Scott] Ely and [Molly] Richmond wrote in an email Wednesday that College administrators told them HCFA is the first-ever campus group to be placed on administrative probation. The two said they are unaware of the “full ramifications” of the designation.

[Aaron] Goldman, the University spokesperson who announced HCFA’s probation, did not immediately respond to a question asking whether probation means the group will be stripped of all rights and privileges granted to recognized student organizations.

Recognized student groups enjoy several benefits courtesy of the Office of Student Life, including the ability to reserve Harvard rooms and venues as well as access to a bank account.

Traditionally, HCFA has often held its weekly Doxa events—gatherings during which members worship together—in Yenching Auditorium, a Harvard space.

Other privileges granted to recognized student organizations include the right to poster on campus and permission to participate in activity fairs, both key ways campus groups recruit undergraduates. HCFA, founded in 2008, currently boasts roughly 200 members.

In order to reverse its probationary status, HCFA must prove its compliance both with Harvard’s non-discrimination policies and with “stated expectations regarding local governance,” Goldman wrote in his statement Wednesday.

The group’s probation comes due to the Harvard administration’s having interpreted that it violated guidelines in the Harvard College Student Handbook stipulating that ” recognized campus student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of ‘sexual orientation.’”

Read the whole report here.

[To add insult to injury:]

Harvard: Christian student group must sever ties with parent group
Group has recently faced campus pressure, administrative sanctions

A beleaguered Christian student group on Harvard’s campus has been told that it must sever ties with its parent organization if it wishes to retain its status as an officially recognized student organization.

Harvard College Faith & Action, the student group which was lambasted on campus recently for inviting an ex-gay Christian speaker and which was put on probation for asking an actively bisexual group member to resign from a leadership position, will “need to sever ties with parent group Christian Union in order to re-earn recognition from the College at the end of its year-long administrative probation,” according to The Harvard Crimson. 

That group, Christian Union, “currently provides HCFA with resources, funding, and ministry fellows to lead Bible courses.”

Student leaders have not yet confirmed whether they will be severing ties with Christian Union.

“Though we continue to consider how HCFA’s relationship with the College will evolve, we’re unable to say specifically how we plan to respond given that we have yet to receive any formal communication from the College regarding our status or the changes it might entail,” group co-presidents Molly Richmond and Scott Ely told The Crimson. An employee of Christian Union did not directly respond to a query regarding the parent organization’s plans.

From the report:

The College placed HCFA on probation because the group had “conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent” with Harvard’s rules for recognized student groups, according to College spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman. Goldman added that, if the religious student group wishes to regain recognition in a year’s time, it must prove compliance with the Harvard’s “local governance” and nondiscrimination policies.

The Harvard College Student Handbook mandates that all recognized student groups maintain “local autonomy,” meaning they must make “all policy decisions” without obligation to any parent group, chapter, or charter.

Repeating past assertions, Ely and Richmond wrote in an email Sunday that Christian Union provides “pastoral care and spiritual counseling” to HCFA, but does not dictate the group’s policies.

“Harvard College Faith and Action is entirely autonomous from Christian Union. Our student leadership makes all decisions about HCFA, its people and its policies,” Ely and Richmond wrote. “HCFA was first approved by the Office of Student Life on that basis, and our governance structure has remained fully in the hands of undergraduates ever since.”

The university is mandating that the two groups separate due to a provision in the student handbook that stipulates all student groups must maintain “local autonomy.”

Ely and Richmond, however, maintain that Christian Union “provides ‘pastoral care and spiritual counseling’ to HCFA, but does not dictate the group’s policies,” according to The Crimson.


Student op-ed: Ex-gay Christian speaker ‘threatened’ LGBT students

Student paper accuses Harvard Christian group of ‘homophobia’ and ‘hate’


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