“Tolerant” Georgetown University Ousts Conservative Christian Groups
by Hilary White
WASHINGTON, September 6, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – University campuses are increasingly becoming the flashpoints of the battle over freedom of religious expression. The latest battle is at Washington’s prestigious Georgetown University, a Jesuit school with a long list of illustrious alumni, where the campus protestant chaplains have ousted a group of “conservative” Christian organizations with no explanation.
While this dispute has been characterized as a Catholic university banning Protestant groups, the lawyer retained by the ousted groups, not all of wh ich are exclusively Protestant, points out that there is still an official Protestant presence on campus. Moreover, one of the banned groups, officially “non-denominational,” includes a large Catholic component in its active membership: the widely-respected InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
David French, a senior legal counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom at the Alliance Defense Fund says the reason for dumping the groups has nothing to do with Catholics vs. Protestants.
“Georgetown is of course a private, Catholic school, but it has opened itself up to multiple religious viewpoints and proudly proclaims its religious diversity,” he writes. But only as long as that “diversity” does not includeÂ those who hold that the Christian creed as objectively true and the bible is inerrant whether Protestant or Catholic.
Georgetown, in its notice to the groups said that after “evaluating many areas of Protestant Ministry’s mission,” the university’s “Protestant Ministry has decided to move in another direction.”
The university said the Affiliated Ministry’s activities would be banned entirely from campus. All websites linking the ministries to Georgetown University are to be “modified to reflect the terminated relationship. Your ministries are not to publicize in any literature, media, advertisement, etc. that Georgetown University is or will be an active ministry site for your ministry/church/denomination.”
Georgetown includes Catholic, protestant, Jewish, Orthodox Christian and Muslim chaplains on campus. The issue, says French, author of Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus, is not a matter of religious conflict, but of ideological bias.
French writes, “The real problem at Georgetown is the same problem that has plagued campuses across the country: an increasing intolerance for religious students and student groups (regardless of whether they are Catholic or Protestant) who take the Bible seriously and seek to live their lives under the authority of scripture.”
The affected groups include InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Graduate), Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, Georgetown Community Church, Crossroad Campus Christian Fellowship and Asian Baptist Student Koinonia.
The Washington Post reports that the students have collected 400 signatures expressing dismay at the heavy-handed measure. The groups’ leaders have complained that the campus ministries have become increasingly “controlling” in recent years and have asked for signed agreements not to evangelize. The groups are concerned with the implications for religious freedom.
The Post quoted Kevin Offner who said, “We want the Protestant groups to have the same rights as the Jewish groups or the Muslim groups.”