Anti-Christian despotic fascism at UCL
It was (and remains) manifest common sense to His Grace that leaders of a Christian Union ought to subscribe to foundational Christian tenets, not for reasons of dogmatism or exclusivity, but in accordance with St Paul's exhortation to ‘teach what is consistent with sound doctrine’ (Titus 2:1). Quite how non-believers could possibly adhere to this teaching (and so sustain the ethos of the society) is something of a mystery.
At the time, His Grace was searching for evidence of ‘inclusion’ in other Exeter University clubs and societies: perhaps tone-deaf philistines in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society; wheelchair-bound students in the rowing club; a lesbian Christian to lead the Muslim Society’s Friday prayers...
It was all in jest, though doubtless not remotely amusing to those affected.
But now it transpires that students of the LSE have reintroduced the blasphemy law (which His Grace observed long ago [five, to be precise]), and students at University College London have voted to force Roman Catholic chaplaincies to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life discussions. The motion (here in full) was adopted by 2002 votes to 818. It says: ‘Any future open events focusing on the issue of termination invite an anti-choice speaker and a pro-choice speaker as well as an independent chair, to ensure there is a balance to the argument.’
His Grace looks forward to pro-Israeli speakers being invited to meetings of the Palestine Society, and for members of the Conservative Society being called to address the Labour Society, and for all avid Guardian-reading lecturers to be accompanied by ardent readers of RightMinds. All ‘to ensure there is a balance to the argument’, you understand.
Honestly, whatever happened to freedom of speech, freedom of religion and of association? This is a university – an English university – in which its student body apparently has no remote understanding of what it is to be educated in the liberal arts tradition, or any appreciation of what it is to live in a liberal democracy.
Further, the UCL Student Union also voted to adopt a fixed pro-abortion stance and formally affiliate itself to the organisation Abortion Rights. This development has considerable implications for the university’s Catholic Society (though by no means exclusively), which has said: “We are concerned that this could set a precedent for other such divisive issues at UCL. Societies such as the Catholic Society, who by their nature are pro-life, are now no longer able to express themselves without first warning the union and inviting a pro-choice speaker in order that so-called ‘balance’ may be imposed.”
Neil Addison (Barrister) has blogged on the legalities (or illegalities) of this. He has recommended that the Catholic Society ignores this Motion ‘which is completely illegal under s43 the Education (No 2) Act 1986 which guarantees freedom of speech at Universities, and is also illegal under Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights’. He says:
The Student Union has no right to dictate what speakers are invited by Student Organisations. Also the resolution assumes that everyone involved in this debate can be easily categorised as "pro choice" or "anti choice" which is a simplistic analysis. Many people for example regard Nadine Dorris (sic) as "pro life" though she describes herself as "pro choice". What right does the Student Union have to decide which category a speaker should be classified under?His Grace exhorts the UCL Catholic Society and Christian Union to invite whatever pro-life speakers they wish, and not to be intimidated by the harassment and bullying threats of the Student Union, the Constitution of which clearly states:
XXVI. Affiliation to Outside BodiesErgo the decision of the UCL Student Union to affiliate to Abortion Rights would appear to be in breach of their own Constitution.
A. The Union may not affiliate to any religious, political or other sectarian organisations, other than the NUS and the University of London Union.
But why let a minor matter of law get in the way of a little anti-Christian despotic fascism?