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Editorial | When TCF debate ends, CARE still has a place

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 08:02

 

Aside from its role in the recent policy debate concerning the right of Tufts Christian Fellowship, to apply for exclusion from the university’s non-discrimination policy, Tufts Coalition Against Religious Exclusion (CARE) has an important role to play in this campus’ religious life. CARE, a group of students who have sought to make student religious groups accessible to all who wish to participate, has been a vocal and visible presence in the TCF debate. In this context they have, for better or for worse, been influential.

But CARE existed before this academic year and hopefully will continue to exist after this singular issue has been resolved. The group is an organization of students from all sorts of religious affiliations — or without affiliation. We appreciate their advocacy and work and remind them to be respectful in the face of differing of opinions, practices and beliefs — it’s during these key moments that respect trumps mere tolerance. Where discussion of religion and religious practices can be polarizing and cause students to distance themselves from controversy or misrepresentation, a sensible and informed in-depth consideration of these debates is vital. We often use the term “safe spaces” in the context of physical arenas that are supposedly free of preconceived ideas, judgment, and violence of any kind (including social and emotional). 

However, our lip service to creating and maintaining these spaces is being tested, as we students wrestle with our spiritual selves. CARE can act as an informed confederation that melds discourse and direct action, while maintaining that an individual’s spiritual or religious self is inextricably tied to their ever-evolving identity, and that forced separation is not necessary for full exploration and self-acceptance. 

The issue circulating in Daily headlines and TCU Senate resolutions relevant to CARE at the moment is a messy one. It involves everything from Student Activities Fee allocation to the legal rights of religious groups to the dual administrative and TCU roles as watchdogs against discrimination. CARE has an obvious dog in the fight. But we hope that as this issue gets resolved and the campus moves on to different fights, CARE remains to fill the space as another spot on campus where religious belief and its various incarnations are questioned and discussed logically and without judgment.  

College, and the exposure to the widely varying opinions and practices of a campus like Tufts, can be downright frightening for new arrivals to the Hill. CARE, along with the unversity’s various religious groups and others, is just one of those working to make that transition an easier one for anyone with questions about their faith. 

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