Sunday, November 19, 2006

Universities Seek to Ban Christian Unions

I am not a religious person, but I like to think my beliefs are broadly Christian. This is, after all, still a predominantly Christian country. But I find it appalling that Christians are starting to be persecuted like some weired religious sect, while other religions are deemed to be 'untouchable' both in law and satire. The latest manifestation of this worrying trend is that some universities are, unbelievably, starting to ban Christian Unions. These small minded universities are supporting a politically-correct agenda where 'equality and inclusion' must mean that Christians are viewed as bigots. Christian Union meetings are banned, bank accounts frozen, and their advocacy of Christian orthodox belief is considered too offensive for expression on university premises. Funny, I always thought universities were places of freedom of expression and free speech. I wonder if the same thing is happening to Islamic Societies. Somehow, I doubt it. They just wouldn't dare.

Cranmer has more HERE.


Anonymous said...

What a joke. The LGBT society wants the Christian society banned but not the Muslim one. While there is still much homophobia in the church it's nothing compared to the homophobia in Islam with Muslim clerics calling for the death penalty for homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

iain, in 1998 i was thrown out of my halls of residence after the christian union there complained about something. they complained about me having a cradle of filth poster on the wall of my bedroom which was apparently blasphemous and offensive to them. they complained after they went from door to door at the university with bibles trying to convert students and saw it in my room. having seen this they then canvased every other student on my corridor to find anything they could use against me - someone had a banana go missing. yes really, the rector brought that up. the christian union systematically went around the university trying to get rid of every single student in halls they did not like the look of. many universities are now taking action against these organisations because they have been taken over by a bunch of unlibertarian, evangelical nutcases. now you tell me where my freedom of expression was? as the university chaplain correctly stated there was "nothing christian about our christian union."

Anonymous said...

This is a completely uninformed post. The Christian Union society is unwilling to abide by the Students Union rules - that all socities must be open to all students. This stops discrimination.

This rule means that the LGBT Society must accept non-LGBT students.

This is not the persecution of Christian Union's - but due to that particular society's choice not to abide by the rule at that particular university, it may be de-ratified. Just like the Scandinavian society would be - if didn't allow non-Scandinavians to join.

This is also not happening at all universities as you might presume if you read this.

Iain - this post makes you sound like a tabloid journalist of the worst kind.

Iain Dale said...

Patrick, that's bollocks. Of course the Christian Union is open to all students. But if you are a practising Muslim, why would you want to join? Your Scandinavian example is so ludicrous it undermines the rest of what you wrote.

Anonymous said...

I think this is wonderful news. Christianity thrives on persecution and atrophies on complacency.

The Anglican Consensus is dead on its feet and the battle will be joined with Militant Secularism and Fundamentalist Islam leading to a huge upsurge in Evangelical Protestantism which will leave a small Anglo-Catholic Rump where the Church of England once stood.

This stupid attempt by the Gramscian Left to destroy Christian Unions on campuses will backfire but uproot Anglicanism as we have known it; and do take note of the protagonists because some of them will be the politicians of tomorrow.

The contours of the New Britain are coming into focus, it should be a more sharply polarised society than hitherto as the Anglican Settlement crumbles and the New Presbyterianism takes shape.

Religion is going to be much more a defining characteristic of the future in this country, and secular politics is in its death throes.

This was a stupid move by the student politicians for they will liberate Evangelical Protestanitsm from the Anglican Church

Anonymous said...

Ban all religion from University. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Ediburgh University Christian Society

CU is an interdenominational Christian society that aims to provide a place where students can come and experience the love of Jesus practically as they meet with Him and with each other; and together learn more about Him. The main focus of the Christian Union however is outward looking, as we seek to tell others about the living relationship they can have with a God who loved them enough to send His one and only Son to die for them, and continues to treasure their souls!

As long as Muslim students have been on campus, they have sought to organise themselves to share ideas and support each other. As such, there have been various Islamic Societies established at this university over the years.

The current group, the Islamic Society of Edinburgh University (ISocEd) was set up in January 2001 and has organised a number of popular talks and events since then. This year, it will work on various new projects and, we hope, reach out to more people than ever before.

The aims of the Society include:


Bringing Muslims together and providing them with a good environment.

Educating both Muslims and non-Muslims about the beauty and teachings of the Islamic way of life;

Representing Muslim opinion on campus.

Our Society and its events are open to people of any race or gender. In all our decisions, we follow the guidance of the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace).

That's why we now have 2 regular study circles: one for brothers and one for sisters.

Anonymous said...

If there are problems with the Christian Union shoving the Bible in people's faces, as some here have described, then surely wouldn't it be better to act against its wrongdoings rather than ban it altogether?

Whether you like it or not, Christianity is alive and well, and the United Kingdom is an officially Christian country. By all means, tolerance of other faiths, just so long as it does go against the 72% of the population that still think of themselves as Christian.

Anonymous said...

In most uniiversities the CU is 'like some weird religious sect'.

This is, I think, a recent development, and a worrying one. It's not the 'being Christian' element that's problematic, it's the militantism and the dogmatism.

We had terrible problems at my university with the CU putting pressure on students (especially lonely students or new foreign students) to 'convert'. We also had problems with the CU's approach to homosexuals and other religious groups.

They did make a mean toastie though, and I'd be sad to see the end of that.

If they can't behave with tolerance and humility they should face the consequences.

Little Black Sambo said...

Anonymous 6.22: "Ban all religion from University. Thanks."

Now there's an open mind! Just the kind of person we need at our universities.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot to say on this subject..but don't know whether I should bother seeing as previous posts seem to get deleted...

Iain Dale said...

Shotgun, entirely up to you. But you know exactly why that post was deleted. I won't have that word used on this blog. If you don't like it, you have a choice.

Little Black Sambo said...

Blamerbell 6.43:
"If they can't behave with tolerance and humility they should face the consequences."

We have ways of making you tolerant.

Anonymous said...

As a broad point on University Christian Unions, in my experience they do seem to be far more extreme then you might think. An ex-girlfriend of mine got caught up in Cambridge's one and it was scarily cult-like; she had a 'spiritual advisor' assigned to her and was put under some deeply unpleasant psychological pressure to conform. In the end she walked away after being baldly told that her (gay) brother was going to hell and eternal torment, but it's left her really quite damaged.

Now, that's not a reason to ban the things, but it's worth considering that such organisations are not neccesarily the fluffy, tolerant ones that you might suppose.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I'm afraid you've fallen for the spin here.

(Evangelical) Christian Unions aren't being disaffiliated for their political or religious beliefs, they're getting disaffiliated because they refuse to follow Union policies on democracy and access. The most common are:

1. A society must be open to any student

Many Christian Unions require you to be a Christian to join. This is contraversial - almost every Jewish Society in the country has non-Jewish members who come for the food or the experience. I'd imagine Islamic societies were similar. Not so with Christian Unions.

Christian Unions argue that any student can join because you don't have to be a Christian to join; you just have to become one.

It's worth adding that at some CUs, you need to also be the right sort of Christian. Being Catholic or Orthodox won't cut it.

2. A society's leadership must be open to any of its members

Most CUs require their committee to sign a Statement of Doctrine in order to be eligible for a leadership role in the Union. This is normally considered to be a breach of the above policy, and makes it impossible for people to democratically change the CU's structure unless they pre-agree to a quite strict religious doctrine in advance.

3. A society must hold elections to appoint its officers, in which all members are eligible to vote.

Some CUs have the outgoing officers directly appoint the new team. Others get God to appoint them, through praying for a divine sign of some sort (there's a name for this but I can't remember it).

It's for breaching these rules - which are designed to ensure that all recipients of financial support from a Student Union are open and democratic - that CUs have found themselves being cut off from Student Unions.

A couple of endnotes:

Some CUs were never a part of their Student Union in the first place, choosing to leave rather than fulfill the above conditions.

SUs tend to be one of many Christian societies on a campus - bigger universities have a Catholic society, a Methodist society, maybe even an Ecumenical Society. And there's also normally a Chaplaincy too. These organisations are often more hostile to the Christian Union than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Iain is right: partick makes a fatuous point about a Scandinavian Club. As a Gibraltarian I might want to join it because I liked visiting that part of the world, and I am sure I would be made welcome.

However some groups are more inclusive than others. A white officer applying to the National Black Police Association would be disciplined for making a 'political capital' out of < insert liberal nonsense here > 'sensitive issues'.

"Sir" Ian Blair would have apoplexy if officers tried to start a National White Police Association (almost worth it just to wind him up).


Mentally change every instance of "black" to "white". Launch that organisation. Then get all your friends to enter a sweepstake on how many hours before the PC-police are at your door with a warrant.

Some people are so much more equal than others these days.

Anonymous said...

Section 43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986 provides that:

s 43 Freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics and colleges.

(1) Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government of any establishment to which this section applies shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.
(2) The duty imposed by subsection (1) above includes (in particular) the duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with--
(a) the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or
(b) the policy or objectives of that body.

Equally, a ban would also be a disproportionate interference with the rights to religious freedom and assembly guaranteed by the European Convention.

I think the equality policy alluded to is wrong. The Equality Act 2006 s.57 exempts religious groups from its application in certain circumstances.

In fact equality is being denied here because like cases are not being treated alike. Other religious groups with illiberal beliefs are not be treated in the same way. The student union would have to exclude all such groups or none.

Anonymous said...

OK look we had something like this sort of happen at my uni when I was there a couple of years ago and I feel there is some confusion here.

The universities themselves shouldn't be blamed for what is going on, these religous unions are running into problems with the students union at these unis, the students union is run by students who are elected by students.

Moving on. It is a fundamental point that all unions that want to be affiliated with the students union (this means they get funding from the students union, can use student union meeting rooms, stuff like that) should abide by the rules of the students union. One of these rules is that all students should be allowed to join any society they should so choose. By saying that only people of a certain religious viewpoint can't join up they are breaking these rules.

As for your point about why a muslim (or any other non christian) would want to join up, erm why not? I had mates in the Christian and Islamic societies back when I was student and I would quite often pop along to their events (I'm an agnostic) and I had a good time for a number of reasons.

If Christians don't want non Christians going to their meetings they are perfectly free to become de-affiliated from the students union and take funding from their local Christian organisation.

Anonymous said...

Some CUs have the outgoing officers directly appoint the new team. Others get God to appoint them, through praying for a divine sign of some sort (there's a name for this but I can't remember it).

I seem to recall that Popes take their place by a combination of the above two methods.

I say that unless we have pagan and Muslim bishops immediately then I demand abolition of the Catholic Church! It's not fair to me because I am excluded! My feelings are hurt. Where do I sue?

I choose not to join the PlaneSpotters Club through indifference and a small amount of contempt. I would expect the Militant Tendency Club to reject my membership application if I were a Tory council candidate at the time.

But I accept their existence - I wouldn't close either of them down or deny them funding / facilities.

Anonymous said...

Iain, Blamerbell and Patrick are both right. On a number of campuses the Christian Union isn't the nice moderate organisation you might hope it to be. Considering the equal opportunities rules of many Students' Unions, it's clear to many students why they're not welcome at many Unions.

Anonymous said...

Well the Christian Union on universities should be understood as distinct from Christian groups, more often based around the Chaplaincy. The Christian Union is, at least here (Bristol), an Evangelical group for Low CofE-ers and other protestant groups.

However they are open to everyone here, including atheists, gays and even Catholics. Not least because they see it as part of their role as active Christians to be available to people who have questions and, to some extent, to proselytise. They define themselves not as a practising group but a group that are Christian and interested in the Christian faith. They will help other Christians find an appropriate church and, at their meetings, welcome non-Christians to discuss Christianity.

The Muslim Society and the Middle Eastern Cultural Society seem pretty much the same, open to non-believers and people who aren't terribly interested. The LGBT advertises itself as straight-friendly too. Generally I think that that seems reasonably sensible.

I think it would be ridiculous to ban the groups that I've described, but if the events are not open then I don't see a problem with not providing them with a free location.

Anonymous said...

out from under - in many islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, the penalty for homosexuality is execution. muslim clerics aren't "calling for the death penalty"; it is there and is used with great rigour. It's been there since the Dark Ages when islam was being invented. They even hang adolescent boys. It doesn't bear thinking about.

Anonymous said...

The CU in the UK is a body broadly aligned with the CoE. In the circumstances it is surprising that so many people have assumed that it is a religious society - like the CoE it is a body for those not brave enough to stand for election to change direction with the wind and to try to impose ludicrous rules on others in the name of political correctness. Any attempts to ban the CU on grounds relating to religious freedom of expression are therefore as misguided as the CU is itself. Much more worrying is that Bliar looks ever more likely to join a proper church, and one that offers him forgiveness for all is sins, once his term of office is over and he has secured his seat in the Lords.

Anonymous said...

I'd hope for the sake of freedom of speech that religious unions weren't universally banned - but failing that, whatever the rules are, make sure they are applied equally and fairly.

I agree with Iain's point that no-one dares touch Islam in the media, which is just spineless on the part of every politician and editor, but I'd be curious to know how the universities themselves are justifying this move because their grounds (or lack of them) are surely what this debate hinges around. An important piece of the puzzle is still missing and Cranmer's article didn't really answer this.

Paul Evans said...

Iain, I'm afraid I think you've missed the point a bit. At Exeter for example (where legal action is being threatened) the CU is suspended from the privelages afforded by the Guild of Students because it has refused to accept a motion to have it classed as the Evangelical Christian Union, which as a fiercely evangelical organisation which bans Catholics and Anglicans who won't sign up to it's credo from speaking, it is. For a UCCF call itself a 'Christian Union' is hugely misleading. They can keep doing it if they want, but they shouldn't expect to be assisted by a student union.

Anonymous said...

In most uniiversities the CU is 'like some weird religious sect'.

This is, I think, a recent development, and a worrying one. the 1970s The God Squad and Holy Rollers were happily exclusive and no problems - i even got dragged off to see Billy Graham when dear beautiful Ann could not believe anyone could believe in the comments I had just made about her God Squad..............

She was a wonderful NHS nurse who practised what she contrast to my tutorial partner who devoted himself to the International Marxist Group which helped noone.

Students today are too soft-headed and have no capacity for debate, it is the low standard of schooling they receive which makes photocopying books and downloading essays a substitute for academic scholarship

Anonymous said...

Seeing as all student union funds are tax-payer funded, couldn't you all go to church, whichever one you fancy, or other appropriate place of worship, and use the funding for non-contentious and inclusive , if not educational, purposes?

Archbishop Cranmer said...

I'd be curious to know how the universities themselves are justifying this move because their grounds (or lack of them) are surely what this debate hinges around. An important piece of the puzzle is still missing and Cranmer's article didn't really answer this.

Mr Tom R,

His Grace has given indications, and the facts for each case are very variable, which is why he linked to The Times. They all amount to a clash with the newly-introduced policies on 'equality', 'non-descrimination', and 'inclusion', especially in the area of leadership. It would appear that if a CU were to be infiltrated by (say) atheists, NUS rules demand that a leadership election should be able to decide the leadership of a CU without being doctrinally bound. If (say) the atheists' vote swung it, the NUS insists that an atheist may be appointed to lead the CU for a pre-determined period of time. This is plainly absurd. CUs may not be perfect, but for the most part they are composed of committed young Christians trying to work out their faith in the real world; trying to engage with non-believers without being conformed to their standards. If the CU becomes a refuge, where is the fault in that?

the CU is suspended from the privelages afforded by the Guild of Students because it has refused to accept a motion to have it classed as the Evangelical Christian Union

Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Dynamite,

Why should it? Which earthly body should have the authority to decide which societies should have a suffix to the 'Christian' label, and which should not? Why may one not simply be Christian? Any further label implies a warning, some degree of sectarianism, an indication of exclusivity beyond what Scripture prescribes. If there were a Catholic Union, as there are at many universities, should one accept the label 'extreme Catholic' or 'fundamentalist Catholic'? The same may be asked of a Muslim society. By refusing to accept the suffix 'Evangelical', they are seeking to communicate an inclusive 'broad church' approach. They may not be perfect, and some of their practices may irk some, but they have every right to resist the obsession with ever-increasing categorisation in order to pigeon-hole their beliefs as something beyond the moderate or generally acceptable.

Paul Evans said...

Cranmer, they might do a better job at "communicating a broad message" if they didn't require all speakers at their events to sign up (literally) to an evangelical doctrine, and exclude their own Anglican and Catholic University Chaplins from speaking. If they want to masquarade as something they aren't that's fine, but they shouldn't expect other students to subsidise it.

Dynamite (Mr)

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is a sin when sexual acts are committed,and is undeservedly a non Christian practice.

Anonymous said...

Iain, spooky lays out more clearly what I was trying to say.

The Scandinavian Society example is not 'bollocks' at all. If they didn't adhere to union rules on access and democracy then they too would be disaffiliated.

If you're to succeed in becoming an MP (which by the way I hope you do) then I hope you check out facts more clearly in future - and refrain from calling peoples responses bollocks).

Paul Evans said...

Similarly, if I were to set up a society called 'the Politics Society' which required all members and speakers to agree that they were paid-up members of the Liberal Democrats - I wouldn't expect the all other students to pay for this...

Anonymous said...

"Students today are too soft-headed and have no capacity for debate, it is the low standard of schooling they receive which makes photocopying books and downloading essays a substitute for academic scholarship"

9:06 PM

It is not the low standard of schooling it is the low entry requirements. you have people now with derees who wouldn't have got into an old polytech.

Anonymous said...

Matters of religion are not of the same order as politics or a social society. So the politics/Scandinavian socs are false analogies. Religion is a matter of individual conscience. In terms of organised religion it is hard if not impossible to separate the individual conscience from a collective setting. Religious
practice often involves interaction with fellow believers. That
collective dimension is often articulated through activities that are based on a shared doctrine in the form of rituals eg prayer. The rituals are often structured ceremony intended to bind fellow believers. Religions can only therefore be open to "believers". It is because of their special nature they receive special protection in law. This is why the Equality Act makes relgioius exceptions.

The irony here is that those who force their liberal views on those they consider illiberal are themselves illiberal.

Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dynamite,

Whilst agreeing with your main point, the parallel you draw with a 'politics society' is flawed.

Such a society would concern itself with politics, which must by definition include LibDems. 'Christian' does not have to include anything that is extra-biblical, and this is the foundation of the Protestant Reformation. A better equivalence in this instance would be that a 'religious society' would require its speakers to sign up to the Nicene Creed. They plainly would not and should not, but that is not what we are talking about.

It would have been more apposite if you had named your society the Conservative Society. And then let them be challenged as to why they did not permit Jean-Marie Le Pen or (for that matter) George W Bush to address their meeting. The 'Continental Right' or 'Religious Right' is simply not to their liking. As a consequence, they are obliged to re-name themselves the 'Centre-Left Conservatives' on account of their rejection of advocates of something perceived as 'hard right'. Equally unacceptable would it be for a Conservative Society to be obliged to rename itself the 'Right-wing Conservative Society', on account of the 'left' feeling alientated from its platform.

The CU in question has every right under the principles of freedom of association to decline anyone from addressing its meetings. A Catholic Union would have a right to decline being led by a Protestant.

His Grace refers you to the concluding question on his blog, and asks, by your reasoning, why a Muslim Society may not be perfectly within its rights to reject a lesbian Muslim from leading Friday prayers?

Anonymous said...

Just being pedantic...Sam Tarran is wrong. The UK is not "officially a christian country."
You can argue that England and Scotland are "officially Christian" in that both have established churches but the same is not true of Wales or NI. Sam, if you mean England say England.If you mean the UK say the UK. They are not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale said...

Shotgun, entirely up to you. But you know exactly why that post was deleted. I won't have that word used on this blog. If you don't like it, you have a choice.

No, I did not know exactly why that post was deleted, but fair enough, shove it where the sun don't shine then...

I would have had a different attitude had you warned me of course, but then again, why should you as it is your blog and you can do as you please, and quite right too, but I do suspect elephunt is a known associate of some description teaming to knock the Lib Dums.

Pity you've gone so self righteous, pompous and straight laced when robustness and a sense of humour is what is needed today, and what 18 Doughty Street needs too BTW to make it anything other than a sixth form debating society.

Here's a radical idea for you, make a small text on the first page stating your rules and regs for posters and then you won't lose contributors, not that I am a great loss, I know, but there is more than just me. Sorry to say you're deleted in all fronts except for a bit of stick on my own unworthy rant and scream.


Iain Dale said...

Shotgun, You used a word begining with c and ending with t. I don't allow it. Pure and simple. Never have. never will. if you want to use the word on your own blog that's fine, but you ain't useing it here. End of story.

Iain Dale said...

Sotgun, having just visited your blog, I see you need no encouragement to use that word...

Anonymous said...

All religeons are essentially cults and as such have no place in alleged places of learning.

The students obviously don't have enough to do...

Anonymous said...

but they shouldn't expect other students to subsidise it.

Until you start to pay the full unsubsidised cost of attending University, I suggest you desist from such ludicrous statements...........currently only Non-EU students are in this category

Manfarang said...

Maybe a Non-subscribing Christian Union should be set up cf.Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church.

I though the Test and Corporation Act had been repealed.

Anonymous said...

We always used to have a bit of a laugh about the Cambridge University New Testament Society. I expect they've disbanded; still a lot of them about though.

Anonymous said...

A lad in my halls was "got" by the CU when they told the poor spotty awkward thing that Christian girls are real hotties and there's nothing quite like a Good Christian Woman in the sack..!

Anonymous said...

Iain, I like your blog but you've got to be better informed before writing some of this stuff.

At my university we allowed the CU to come to an event and invite people to join them on the condition that they did not try to convert anyone. They broke that agreement - so we stopped allowing them to use our meeting rooms.

Their response was to squat.

I could give you many more examples, offensive literature, offensive T-shirts etc.

If they want to offend people, fine, but not while using other people's money.

Anonymous said...


You restrict the use of the "C word" but see no problems with a poster called "little black sambo".

Which do you think is more offensive?

Anonymous said...


Little Black Sambo was a favourite book with children. There was no notion of discrimination associated with it. The discrimination exists in your tortured PC mind. Same as with golliwogs. Children loved golliwogs and Little Black Sambo.
I curse you to run round and round and turn to ghee.

Anonymous said...

see no problems with a poster called "little black sambo".

It would be a criminal offence to attack someone on grounds of his pigmentation and his self-description as opposed to what he says and the words he used..................shouldn't you play the ball and not the man ?

Anonymous said...

Surely this much vaunted freedom of association includes the freedom of disassociation.

So what if the TreeWorshipSoc requires its members to be active tree worshipers. So what if GromSoc is only for Gromboolians.

Provided RightWingLoonSoc is allowed the same priveliges as all the others and none of them cause any harm, who gives a flying chuff?

Sadly there does appear to be a growing tendency towards banning certain groups whose beliefs conflict with the ruling pc orthodoxy.

I do hope we aren't seeing a development along the lines of our US cousins.


ps, Anon. Maybe LBS is a non-european person of minimal stature and therefore feels comfortable with describing himself so. Perhaps not. I see no evidence either way and until I do I personally shall refrain from making any jusgement one way or t'other. I dunno what Iain's policy on this is, but since it's his blog I guess it's up to him.

pps This word verification thingy is discriminatory against dyslexics.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that ps should have been addressed to pmd rather than Anon.

See what I mean about dyslexics?

Anonymous said...

It's Iain's blog and his to do what he likes with. But my personal view is that all taboos surrounding individual words amount to censorship and/or political correctness in one form or another, and it's time we bloggers swept them away.

I too have looked at Shotgun's blog, and for the first few times the use of the c-word is mildly amusing. For instance, the post which reads simply: "David Miliband is a c***. I just thought I would share that thought with you" certainly gave me a laugh on a dull Monday morning in Derby. But after a while it becomes a bit boring and repetitive, as does most swearblogging in my view.

The history and etymology of the c-word has been exhaustively researched by authors such as Geoffrey Hughes in his book entitled "Swearing," and it only assumed its current "unmentionable" status in the last 100 years or so.

Paul Evans said...

Cranmer, discussion continued over to your blog. Points missed all round here I'm afraid...

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely mind-boggling! Having been heavily involved in the CU, Chapel and CathSoc at University, one of my proudest moments (aside from a mass distribution of the New Testament) was where we collaborated with the Jewish and Muslim societies to provide a "neutral" prayer-room on the premises of the chapel that each would feel able to use.

Those who would call us 'bigots', 'atrophied/complacent/persecuting' etc can stick that in their proverbial pipe, and smoke it till their sick.

Anonymous said...

You can swear as much as you like on my blog Shotgun, just cross Mr. Dale (he's quite scarey in person).

Paul Burgin said...

Spooky, part of the problem there is that some CU members unfortunatley cannot tell the difference between a Church and a Christian Society, plus the occasional sheer variety of backgrounds of Christians within each CU!

Anonymous said...

Why should student societies be open to all? Why should they not be able to decide their own admissions policy?

Little Black Sambo said...

I see a fellow-poster would like to ban me because of my name. THAT ILLITERATE PERSON SHOULD READ THE BOOK: LBS is a HERO.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

no longer anonymous:

There's nothing stopping a student society having a completely exclusive membership. What is at question is the right to access and use limited students' union resources when they would not be available to all students. Virtually every students' union I'm aware of has rules stating that for a society to affiliate and thus qualify for funding etc... membership must be open to all students. The students' union receives its block grant from the university on this basis.

There is nothing stopping a society existing outside the SU with its own membership rules and method of fundraising. But if it seeks to affiliate to the SU it is right that the latter can set down reasonable criteria to ensure its resources are accessible to all.

Incidentally the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (the national umbrella group for CUs) used to have a policy that CUs should not affiliate to students' unions and indeed disbarred those CUs that did. A case of double standards?

Anonymous said...

iain, getting to see your posting a bit late in the day, and reading through all the comments, I realise some stuff I could have written has been said. But no mention so far of the Equality Act 2006. The government is planning to make discrimination illegal on the basis of sexual orientation. I've read elsewhere that quite a few Christian groups and individuals have submitted during the consultation period requests to be exempted from the regulations, which will probably come into force next Spring, rather than this Autumn as expected. I've no doubt Christian Unions were among those groups,and if I read the signs correctly, they are likely to get their way, at least as regards excluding gay people from their worship meetings. I've also written to Ruth Kelly, to say that as a Christian myself I want no exemptions to the regulations. Equality is not equality if some people can be treated like second class human beings, as a minority of Christians treat gay people. Student Unions would, I feel, be upholding the spirit of the new law, if they take a strong line against exclusive Christian Unions.

Mr Osato said...

No Longer Anonymous

The point is they can exist, if they want to. They just can't affiliate to a students' union and receive the benefits, including financial support (state funding!) and the right to use university (public!) buildings.

I recall from my own university days having very similar issues with a (non-religious) society who expected to be handed the cash but wouldn't play by some fairly simple rules, and they came very close to being closed down.

If what the universities/SUs say is correct then the CU can have no complaints, they can go and be the 'CU' but get 'FAll' from the state, which is how it should be

David Lindsay said...

Voyager is right that "The contours of the New Britain are coming into focus ... as the Anglican Settlement crumbles," but as "the New Presbyterianism takes shape"?

It will be a New Congregationalism anyway. And more to the point, "The contours of the New Britain" started "coming into focus" in the latest controversy over church schools.

The Archbishop who successfully (note that, successfully) saw off that particular secularist threat was based in somewhere called Birmingham, and was himself a Catholic, i.e., a ledaing member of the largest church in the United Kingdom and in each of its constituent parts based on weekly attendance, having its strognholds in the electorally key areas of Scotland, the North and the Midlands, rather than in the South East, which can elect all the Tory MPs it likes without their making the blindest bit of difference to anything.

Serf said...

I hate to say this but the only way to stop this kind of nonsense is to give up on the idea of legally enforced equality all together. As society has become more inclusive, such legislation has become ever more worthless. Yet rather than repeal that which we already have, we are constantly adding to the groups who need protection.

In this particular case, I don't see why tax payers should subsidise Student societies at all, especially when the money could be used for actual educational purposes. As groups getting our cash include extremely (in my view) offensive left wing groups, why should conservatives be paying for them (or lefties for Conservative groups).

Anonymous said...

The problem is not that Christian groups are being banned from Universities but that the far more radical and dangerous (as has been proven by on the ground facts and the corpses in London) Islamic groups are judged to be untouchable. Despite the 4 Muslim London bombers all coming from British Universities.

There should be no open religious groups in Universities at all.

Anonymous said...

Ok I just want a clear up a few things. The National Union of Students has a No Platform Policy which means that ALL groups such as the BNP, Hizbuq-ul-Tarir etc that preach discriminatory messages are banned from Student Unions. This ban extends to all groups anti-Christian, anti-Semetic etc. The Christians will only be banned if they are preaching things which affect the quality of life of other students. Last week Manchester University Students Union became the first SU in the Country to scrap the NUS no platform policy and reserve it exclusively for the BNP. This is pretty outrageous considering that the Islamic Society and the Socialist Workers party control the Student Union and are banning their political opponents. All discriminatory groups should be banned. End of diccussion.

Anonymous said...

Iain interesting you should mention Islamic Societies. I believe most of them are left alone as they do rather good work and keep to their own etc.

However at Manchester the Islamic Society is in an unholly alliance with the Socialist Workers and runs the Union. This alliance fills the student newspaper with one sided bias on the middle east and uses general meetings to ban far right groups but allow those on the far left and islamic extremists to have a platform. It is all rather upside down and you would have a field day.

I have no idea what the CU is up to in Manchester or even if they bother getting involved. As someone who has some sympathy with the LGBT society but with more common sense.... should they not have realised that its worth leaving the CU alone!!! They were never involved in student politics and now the LGBT have handed them the perfect vehicle to get involved.

Although in my experience student politics seems to be another name for an lgbt society:-)

Anonymous said...

There should be no open religious groups in Universities at all.
Assuming you meant to write 'openly' I must say that the Jesuits would be a great loss; and so many of our finest educational institutions are places of ' religion, learning and research' while being the most open, relaxed and non -evangelical retreats imaginable.

James Higham said...

Afraid I agree with anonymous [2nd comment] who wrote of "unlibertarian, evangelical nutcases" because these are the people who destroy Christianity from within by p---ing everyone off. JWs make me want to find a place to hide. Tom Cruise makes me cringe. And yet I count myself a Christian. Iain Dale is completely right, not uninformed in the least, when he says there is a definite trend towards vilification of this religion, as distinct from others. The eveidence grows each day. Start with Wren.

Anonymous said...

In the 1980s many Jewish Societies were banned from campuses due to their support for the existence of the State of Israel. Every so often some idiots suggest banning Islamic Societies, Jewish Societies, or even the Celtic Supporters Club at Glasgow Uni.

Perhaps now Christians can begin to empathise with other religions that have been, and still are, being persecuted in these ways on campus and beyond.

I can understand why you, as a Christian, are upset in this situation. But rather than trying to say other religions are untouchable, you should be working to find common ground in our shared persecution rather than causing more divisions and hatred.

Liberal Neil said...

This is no new thing.

I (an avowed agnostic) ran a campaign to stop the Students Union attacking the Christian Union at my University - Leicester - back in 1988.

Mind you they did then pray for me in every election I stood in after that and I ended up as Union President ;-)

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Anonymous at 11:43 AM:

Manchester will hardly be the first SU to scrap the No Platform policy. A lot have let it lapse - Queen Mary's expired in the past few months and no-one's yet sought to table a renewal/replacement.

And given the number of "No Platform for the BNP" motions I've seen doing the rounds I'd be very surprised in Manchester is the first to have a BNP only policy.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

First off there is a lot of rubbish talked about the NUS No Platform policy. It does not bind individual students' unions; it's just that many have opted to either duplicate the NUS policy or pass the buck on maintaining a "banned" list to NUS. My current students' union (Queen Mary) has no No Platform policy in force, nor did my old one (Kent).

Manchester will hardly be the first SU to cut back or scrap the No Platform policy. A lot have let it lapse - Queen Mary's expired in the past few months and no-one's yet sought to table a renewal/replacement - whilst others have explictly overturned it. I am not aware of any of the students' unions without such a policy being overwhelmed by the likes of the BNP.

And given the number of "No Platform for the BNP" motions I've seen doing the rounds I'd be very surprised in Manchester is the first to have a BNP only policy. No Platform has always been very badly defined, especially in the mixing up of understanding what fascism and racism mean, and many have opted to just name a few individual groups.

I'd also like to take issue with those who see "Christians" and "Christian Unions" as the same thing. At most universities there are several Christian groups, the majority of which have no problems with democracy and do not demand that people sign a declaration of beliefs to join. Many of the fiercest critics of Christian Unions are Christians themselves.

Average guy on the street said...

At Warwick, we have 2 Christian societies. One is affiliated to our Union but the other was kicked out a few years ago (I think for breaching our equal opps policy). Christian Focus, of which I am a member, welcomes everyone - though I cannot imagine a Muslim turning up at one of our meetings. I am not a member of Christian Union so I cannot speak for their admissions policy.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Average guy: It was because of equal opps. The Warwick Boar article appears to have moved but there's a copy at this messageboard.

Anonymous said...

My Student's Union (Huddersfield) tried to introduce a no-platform policy banning *all* political parties - which was then used to stop a Lib Dem invited speaker.

The backtracking has been pretty rapid after it was pointed out to the University that this put them massively in breach of the law.