Blog author: jcarter
by on Monday, October 22, 2012

Perhaps I’m exceptionally naive, but it always surprises me when colleges and universities—the supposed bastions of tolerance in secular society—refuse to accept people or groups whose views do not align with their own administrators. The latest example comes from Tufts University:

Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) has lost its official recognition as a Tufts Community Union (TCU) student group over alleged discriminatory clauses in the group’s constitutional requirements for its leaders.

TCF leadership says the group plans to appeal the decision.

The group’s Vision and Planning Team (VPT) failed to make revisions to their governing document that would bring it in line with the TCU Constitution’s non-discriminatory clause, Judiciary Chair Adam Sax, a senior, said.

As an unrecognized group, TCF will lose the right to use the Tufts name in its title or at any activities, schedule events or reserve university space through the Office for Campus Life and request and receive funding allocated by the TCU Treasury, Sax said.

TCF is the Tufts chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, an evangelical Christian mission on college campuses across the country, and also has ties to the university Chaplaincy.

The group had been operating in a state of suspended recognition after the Judiciary found that the group’s constitution excluded students from applying to leadership positions based on their beliefs. The clauses in question require that any TCF member who wishes to apply for a leadership role must adhere to a series of tenets called a Basis of Faith, or eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity.”

The Judiciary last month recommended that TCF move the belief-based leadership requirements from the constitution’s bylaws, which are legally binding, to its mission statement, which is not.

Here are the eight exclusionary tenets that Tufts administration finds to be unacceptable:

a. The only true God, the almighty Creator of all things, existing eternally in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–full of love and glory.
b. The unique divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible.
c. The value and dignity of all people: created in God’s image to live in love and holiness but alienated from God and each other because of our sin and guilt, and justly subject to God’s wrath.
d. Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who lived as a perfect example, who assumed the judgment due sinners by dying in our place, and who was bodily raised from the dead and ascended as Savior and Lord.
e. Justification by God’s grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
f. The indwelling presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all believers a new life and a new calling to obedient service.
g. The unity of all believers in Jesus Christ, manifest in worshiping and witnessing churches making disciples throughout the world.
h. The victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ, who will judge all people with justice and mercy, giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.

According to Tufts, an Evangelical Christian group is being discriminatory by expecting its leaders to adhere to beliefs held by . . . Evangelical Christians. Ironically, Tufts Community Union Judiciary seems completely unaware that they themselves are discriminating against a student group for doing the exact same thing they are claiming the TCF is doing: Refusing to allow people to participate if they hold views that differ from the group. (I guess logical consistency and critical thinking are not taught at Tufts.)

But that’s the New Tolerance for you: You either agree with the liberal, secularist worldview or you’ll be run out of the public square.

(Via: The Weekly Standard)


  • Disappointed

    I find the blogpost to be something of a distortion/misrepresentation. The university only asked TCF to “move the belief-based leadership requirements from the constitution’s bylaws, which are legally binding, to its mission statement, which is not.” That’s seems like a completely reasonable and entirely fair precedent for a secular administration to make on a student organization it endorses, no? I presume that this common sense statute applies to all official organizations – and with very good reason, it opens up a space in which organizations can evolve over time; it is, in other words, a simple provision made by the university to distance itself from ideology – which, for a liberal arts college, is kind of a no brainer. Practically speaking, if the current TCF leadership had been willing to make that small amendment, they’d be fine. But they wouldn’t – and so, for me, the more interesting question is: Why?

    Apart from that, I found two things interesting in reading TCF’s “eight basic Biblical truths of Christianity” – the first being that not all (and perhaps not even a majority of) Christians would ascribe to them. For instance, how many Christians worldwide confer personhood on the Holy Spirit, as TCF does in their first article of faith? Second, I was surprised that they wanted to co-opt the name “Tufts Christian Fellowship” rather than adopting a more accurate name such as, “Tufts Evangelical Fellowship.”

    • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

      If a person views the Christian faith as an exclusionary ideology, as you seem to do, then perhaps this is “reasonable.” But you don’t seem to understand the most basic articles of the faith, as evidenced by your statement: “not all (and perhaps not even a majority of) Christians would ascribe to
      them. For instance, how many Christians worldwide confer personhood on
      the Holy Spirit, as TCF does in their first article of faith?”

      The vast majority, I would say. To cite just two examples:

      Eastern Orthodox:
      “Christians believe in God the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not three gods, but one God in three Hypostases, in three personal beings.”
      http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx#11

      Roman Catholic:
      The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion — the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another.
      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm#V

      • Chillycat2

        And yet Tufts has no problem with the Muslim student group whose tenants are even more extreme and exclusionary….hmmm…

        • Ashamed Christian

          If this is so, please show the evidence. If not, you are a liar. Perhaps a racist.

    • http://Culture11.com Joe Carter

      ***In other words, a simple provision made by the university to distance itself from ideology***

      But it does just the opposite. The university’s policy is saying that the only ideology that will be tolerated is one that that the university wholly approves of. For example, if TCF had included a tenet that required all leaders to agree that they would not discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, the university would have had no problem with it. Only those beliefs that aren’t wholly endorsed by the school ar worthy of exclusion.

      ***But they wouldn’t – and so, for me, the more interesting question is: Why?***

      Because it would require them to accept people as leaders of the group who hold views that are directly contrary to the group. What good is it to have a Christian organization when you can’t exclude from leadership those who are not Christians?

      ***the first being that not all (and perhaps not even a majority of) Christians would ascribe to them.***

      With the exception of E, all Christians believe these tenets. It is essentially a restatement of the beliefs that all Christians throughout history have held. If you don’t believe the majority of these tenets then it’s simply wrong to say that the person is a Christian.

      ***For instance, how many Christians worldwide confer personhood on the Holy Spirit, as TCF does in their first article of faith?***

      All orthodox Christians do (or at least should) since that is a key claim of the doctrine of the Trinity.

      • Disappointed

        - You are being speculative when you suggest that “if TCF had included a tenet that required all leaders to agree that they would not discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, the university would have had no problem with it.” Regardless, it is a question of choosing inclusion as an institutional ethic.
        - “Because it would require them to accept people as leaders of the group who hold views that are directly contrary to the group.” Again, another distortion – Mr. Carter, how do you think leadership is established in these organizations? My guess would be that they are democratic, which would mean that the only way someone would become a leader would be via the will of the members. So the only way this would happen would be if some radical group came in and try to scuttle them – are you really that paranoid?
        -”What good is it to have a Christian organization when you can’t exclude from leadership those who are not Christians?” You presume your definition of what it means to be Christian is what is means to be Christian – as a secular/inclusive university, Tufts does not want to associate itself with this kind of ideological approach – and thank God they don’t.
        - “With the exception of E, all Christians believe these tenets.” Well, you have already identified one of the 8 tenets that do not apply to all Christians then, but beyond that I think your idea of belief is arcane. Are you telling me that the millions of Pentecostals in the developing world would ascribe personhood onto the Holy Ghost? Your approach limits any nuanced approach to the Bible. It’s regrettable, perhaps dangerous.

        But the main point I made you still failed to address, Tufts simply said you should shift a set of beliefs away from the register of law and into the register of values. This is where the rubber meets the road, the difference believe cheap grace and costly grace, between a fundamentalist and a real Christian.

        • TCF Supporter

          This is where it becomes clear that inclusion is a flabby virtue, and when it is elevated so that it trumps all over virtues, it leads to this kind of utter nonsense.

          Discrimination is actually a wonderful thing. If I go in for heart surgery, I sure hope that the medical licensing board discriminated when they reviewed my surgeon’s ability and training. Discrimination is useful in every area of society for institutions, communities and all manner of associations to pursue their goals, preserve their mission, and pursue excellence. The leadership at Tufts just haven’t thought haven’t demonstrated great critical thinking skills in this debacle.

          Just because you don’t personally subscribe to historical Christianity, which includes the doctrine of the Trinity, set down in the Church’s earliest writings and affirmed by early church councils, doesn’t mean that historical Christianity does not exist.

          Millions of people around the world are Christians, and I’m sorry, but they get to choose to be so. And their groups may select their leaders – not democratically, by the way, but according to 2,000 year old criteria for leadership – and in doing so evaluate those individuals based on their character and on their belief.

          • Disappointed

            few quick notes:
            - exclusion leads to violence. I take nonsense over violence any day. p.s. christ was inclusive.
            - your analogy is pathetic. i pitied you as I read it.
            - there is no such thing as ‘the’ church, there is only ‘a’ church.
            - as for your notion about criteria for leadership, where you paying any attention AT ALL to the politics at play in the vatican during the last papal transition? good grief. you’re living in a fantasy world man.

          • Greg Miller

            “Disappointed”, Christ wasn’t as “inclusive” as you seem to think, and I’m not exactly sure what fantasy world you’re living in where some sort of mythical “all inclusive” omnipeace resides. As to your false claims about Christ:

            1. Remember that whole parable of His about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46 ) where the wicked are sent to Hell?

            2. Speaking of Hell, Christ had more to say about it than anyone else in the Bible, and how you really don’t want to make the poor life decisions that lead there (“Wide is the way that leads to perdition, and many there are who choose it…” Matthew 7:13 )

            3. Then there is the pesky passage from Luke 12, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided,

            three against two and two against three…”

            Guess you don’t know your Bible very well (which IS disappointing). I’m a little embarrassed for you…but actually speaking Truth does matter.

  • Chillycat2

    And let me guess Tufts is NOT having any problem at all with the Muslim student group…….

  • Jay

    Tufts is 100% secular in its orientation. Secularism is, by its very essence, totalitarian in nature. It tolerates no deviation whatsoever from its tenets. Tufts hopes that, as a university, it is helping to lay the groundwork for a national totalitarianism…a complete subjugation of all people to secularist views, by force if necessary. Tufts pays very little attention to anyone’s Constitutional rights.