Some commenters yesterday remarked upon this story, whereby various University Christian Unions are in dispute with Student Unions for assorted reasons. Once again Bishops have waded in: Bishops warn students over Christian society bans says the Guardian. If anyone finds the actual letter with the list of signatories I’d be interested to see it. If you have time and / or energy you could look at earlier comments from Ruth Gledhill and her colleagues: Ruth Gledhill blog: Students and Christians and Times Online: Hallelujah, they’re standing up for Jesus.
Here is my take.
- First of all as Simon said yesterday this is nothing new at all. I imagine it has been going on as long as Christian Unions have existed. I was at Loughborough University in the late 1980s / early 1990s doing a degree in trams. Our Christian Union was, as Simon reminded me, banned from the Student Union because were were too exclusivist, insisting that everyone signed a doctrinal basis so that everything was kept Sound. It seemed to work – I have largely refrained from heresies from that day until this. I am sure we were not the only University where this sort of thing happened.
- Secondly, Christian Unions are overseen by the rather conservative UCCF. As an aside, the UCCF once tried to headhunt me by buying me lunch. A very good lunch it was too. It was the only time I have ever been headhunted, but I said no as it was a bit high pressured (and the pay was rubbish). Back to the point: I think the CUs vary a lot as to the strength of their affiliation with the UCCF, but at some Christian Unions the UCCF play a major role and therefore the Christian Union ends up being at the conservative end of the theological spectrum. That being the case it does not surprise me at all that there is the odd scuffle between the CU and the Student Union.
- Thirdly, the Christian Union is not the only Christian Student group on a University campus. There is often one or more of the following: an SCM group (more liberal), Fusion (more Charismatic), MethSoc (more Methodist), AngSoc (More Anglican), CathSoc (more Catholic), not to mention groups aligned with the chaplaincy which may or may not include some of the above. Even if ‘the Christian Union’ is excluded from the Student Union it does not mean that Christians are.
What I’m saying is that whatever the rights and wrongs of the individual cases (and I don’t really know enough about any one to make an in depth comment) I don’t think that these disputes are something to get too concerned about. Once again I think these Bishops have waded in where staying nice and dry and watching from a distance from the bank would really be the more sensible option.
Once again this cartooon can be freely reused on blogs if you put a link. This code will do the job:
<img src="http://www.weblogcartoons.com/cb/christian-union.gif" alt="cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com" />
<p>Cartoon by <a href="http://www.cartoonchurch.com/blog/">Dave Walker</a>. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at <a href="http://www.weblogcartoons.com/">We Blog Cartoons</a>.</p>
Update: Bloggers talking about this today and recently:
Richard agrees that the bishops are overstating the case:
Bishops Try to Stir Up the Christian Union Row
Useful comments from the Southampton University chaplain (thanks David)
Dark Side of the Moon Chaplaincy: CU Persecution
I’m almost beginning to think that the MadPriest doesn’t really like CUs:
Of course, I could be wrong…: It’s just like the good old days
- Gemma Tumelty, president of the National Union of Students:
We’re not persecuting Christians – Guardian Unlimited
- For those who really have too much time, 29 (so far) pages of discussion on the Exeter University discussion boards:
X-Net Forums :: Guild May Face Legal Action Over ECU
- Comment from someone who is a Students Union officer and a Christian:
timrollpickering: On Christian Unions and Students’ Unions
Additional further update:
- Text of the letter by the Bishops:
Student union tactics are intolerant and unlawful – Comment – Times Online
- Maggi Dawn:
maggi dawn: Christian Unions and Students’ Unions