Christian Union students 'persecuted for righteousness’ sake'
His Grace received an e-epistle yesterday from Andrea Minichiello Williams, the Public Policy Officer of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, who also alerted other media. She asked that attention be drawn to the increasingly desperate plight of young Christians in British universities who are finding that their Christian Union meetings are banned, bank accounts frozen, and their advocacy of Christian orthodox belief deemed too offensive for expression on university premises.
At Edinburgh University, the pressure is coming principally from the Gay & Lesbian Society, who, above most groups in society, ought to identify with the injustices of intolerance and bigotry. At Exeter University, students are threatening legal action against the Student Guild and the university if they do not support their rights as Christians to the freedoms of speech, belief and association. They have advised that their action will be taken under the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Education (No.2) Act 1986. In Birmingham, the prohibition upon non-believers from leading their meetings has rendered them ‘too exclusive’ for the universities policy of inclusion. It is manifest common sense that leaders of a Christian Union should subscribe to foundational Christian truths, not for reasons of dogmatism or exclusivity, but in accordance with the apostle Paul's command to ‘teach what is consistent with sound doctrine’ (Titus 2:1).
Emma Brewster, CU worker at Exeter University said: ‘This is a fundamental issue of freedom of speech and of common sense. Legal action is the last thing we want to take, and we certainly don’t relish it, but we are fully prepared to stand our ground for truth and freedom. We want to be able to study in a university that allows students – of all faiths and of none – to freely express their views from whatever stance they might take, be able to disagree with one another, and yet to co-exist alongside one another. Surely that is a truly democratic society?’
Cranmer is of the opinion that this is not only a fundamental of democracy, but an imperative in any educational establishment. How may the intellect be challenged if there is no open exchange of views and a search for truth? How may iron sharpen iron if the discomfort of the metal is deemed to necessitate sheaths of cotton wool? It appears that all university societies and clubs must permit the participation of anyone and everyone, irrespective of sympathy or predisposition, even if they hold beliefs or indulge in practices which are antithetical to the stated purposes of the society.
Cranmer looks forward to the enforced inclusion of tone-deaf philistines into the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the compulsory incorporation of wheelchair-bound students into the rowing club, or the imposition of a lesbian bishop upon the Mohammedans’ Friday prayers.