News & Politics

Harvard Demands Christian Student Group Sever Ties With Parent Organization

Harvard Demands Christian Student Group Sever Ties With Parent Organization
The Baker Library at the Harvard Business School on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Harvard University is directing one of its student groups to cut ties with its parent organization for its stances on sexuality. The group is not going to be taken off probation unless it does so.

Harvard College Faith & Action came under fire recently from the school after making several controversial decisions. The group reportedly invited an ex-gay activist to speak, and was then placed on probation for asking an “actively bisexual” student to resign from an internal leadership role.

As student newspaper The Crimson reported: “Harvard College Faith and Action 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 College spokesperson Rachael Dane.”

Harvard reportedly claims that the group violates a rule that all student organizations must have “local autonomy,” and that the group violated the school’s anti-discrimination 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.”

HCFA’s co-presidents Molly Richmond and Scott Ely argue that the group is autonomous: “Harvard College Faith and Action is entirely autonomous from Christian Union. Our student leadership makes all decisions about HCFA, its people and its policies.” They added: “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.”

So why the ultimatum? I suspect we’d find that answer in the school’s general opposition to Christian teachings on sexuality.

Even the most autonomous Christian organization is likely to be governed by one thing above all else: Christianity. I doubt that this group had a parent organization directing these decisions, as they existed to follow the word of God.

Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy protects some students over others. A Christian group should have the right to determine who can be in a leadership role and who cannot based on its guiding biblical principles. Does Harvard issue such crackdowns on Muslim student organizations? Does it target radical student groups for inviting controversial speakers and condemning certain behaviors?

Regardless of where HCFA gets their marching orders, it’s not Harvard’s place to arbitrarily decide whose beliefs are more worthy. They are simply using anti-discrimination rules to discriminate.

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