Acton Institute Powerblog

The New Tolerance at Tufts

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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)

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).