What do John Wycliffe, John Wesley, Thomas Wolsey, and Sir Thomas More have in common? Well, several things, including their Christian faith, but all four men are noted alumni of Oxford University. All four men, as well as every Christian who graduated from Oxford, would also be shocked to learn that one of the colleges at their alma mater has deemed exposure to Christianity to be dangerous for freshmen.
According to The Times, Balliol College of Oxford has “banned the Christian Union from a freshers fair to protect lonely new undergraduates from ‘harm’ and accused Christianity of being ‘an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism’.”
One of the sad ironies is that Balliol College was not only founded by a bishop, but John Wycliffe served as a master of the college. Balliol College has gone from having the Morning Star of the Reformation, who famously translated the Bible into English, as a master to determining that freshmen should be protected from Christianity.
The Times documented the statement sent to the Christian Union explaining the decision to ban them from the freshers fair.
“Frederick Potts, vice-president of the junior common room, the student body, told the CU that he wanted the fair to be a ‘secular space’ and criticised the organisation’s recruitment methods.
‘We recognise the wonderful advantages in having CU representatives at the freshers fair but are concerned that there is potential for harm to freshers who are already struggling to feel welcome in Oxford,’ he said.
‘Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism’.”
There are multiple problems with young Mr. Potts’ statement, not the least of which is Christianity will cause struggling students to struggle even more.
According to a few studies, “Religious belief, religious group participation, and spiritual orientation are linked to academic motivation, good academic standing, and time spent studying.” Faith provides benefits to students beyond their studies, too. It’s reported that “students who participate in ‘spiritual’ activities claim to have greater emotional wellbeing.”
Another problem that immediately jumps out in the statement is Mr. Potts’ claim that he wanted the event to be a “secular space.” Unless “secular space” in England is what SJWs’ safe spaces are in this country (I’m not fluent in contemporary British idioms), Mr. Potts misunderstands the word “secular.” If Mr. Potts really wanted a secular event, he would have allowed the Christian Union to be present. One of the hallmarks of a secular society is the tolerance of competing beliefs.
If Mr. Potts believes that Christianity is harmful, he should do a little research into his nation’s history. Christianity was the driving moral force behind many of the reform movements, including the movement to abolish the slave trade. To that end, a good starting point in his research would be looking up William Wilberforce. After some history lessons, maybe the young, zealous, and devoted secularist Frederick Potts would realize that exposure to Christianity’s tenets, which have provided the moral compass for much of history, would serve Oxford’s incoming freshmen well. After all, Christianity has served many of Oxford’s most distinguished alums very well.