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Op−Ed | TCF to appeal TCUJ derecognition

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 12:10


Zhuangchen Zhou for The Tufts Daily


For a detailed breakdown of the Tufts Christian Fellowship's derecognition, see our news story published today on the front page, "TCF loses official TCUJ recognition, plans to appeal". More background on the group's suspension earlier this semester can be found in a story that ran on Oct. 3, "TCF's group recognition on hold pending constitutional changes."

This semester, the InterVarsity Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) has been suspended, and now derecognized, by the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ) because of clauses in our constitution addressing faith−based requirements for leadership. Specifically, our constitution states that leaders should demonstrate support and advocate for the letter and spirit of TCF’s Basis of Faith. The TCUJ expressed to us that they consider this leadership requirement to be a violation of the non−discrimination clause of the TCU constitution.

Our Basis of Faith reads as follows:

“The Tufts Christian Fellowship is dedicated to understanding and celebrating the basic Biblical truths of Christianity. We believe in 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. We believe in the unique divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible. We believe in 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. We believe in Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who lived as a perfect example. We believe in justification by God’s grace, to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. We believe in 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. We believe in the unity of all believers in Jesus Christ. We believe in the victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.”

Myself and other members of TCF’s student executive leadership team, the Vision and Planning Team (VPT), have been in communication with the TCUJ regarding these clauses in an attempt to reach an agreement. The VPT accepted some of the suggestions the TCUJ presented for changing our constitution, but ultimately did not feel that we could fully satisfy their recommendations without compromising the central beliefs that we gather around. We decided to stand by our leadership requirements, and the TCUJ decided to derecognize TCF as a student organization.

TCF now has the option to appeal the decision of the TCUJ to the student and faculty Committee on Student Life.

The purpose of InterVarsity Tufts Christian Fellowship is to be a dynamic, Christ−centered community that seeks to strengthen its members and reach out to the entire Tufts campus.

Our community is ever changing, and each person’s story is incredibly and beautifully different. Beyond being diverse and dynamic, TCF is meant to be a community that is centered on Jesus Christ. As such, our mission is to encourage the understanding and celebration of our shared beliefs about Jesus. We feel that the best way to fulfill that mission is to have leaders who uphold and are unified by those beliefs. The VPT also feels that the best way to be honest and transparent is to openly express in our constitution the expectations we hold for our current and future leaders. Therefore, our constitution states our desire for leaders to uphold the Basis of Faith.

As an organization that is part of the greater Tufts community, it is our desire to add to the discussions and activities on campus. Since we are an organization dedicated to the understanding of a set of faith−based beliefs, we feel that we have the right to be selective of our leaders on the basis of belief. This is not to govern the behaviors of the fellowship’s members, interested leaders, or current leaders, but to ensure that TCF remains centered on the traditional evangelical Christian beliefs on which it was founded. We want to be an organization that can appropriately provide guidance and a forum for discussion to other students who are interested in the discovery of the joy and satisfaction of following Jesus Christ.

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5 comments Log in to Comment

Tom Morley
Wed Oct 24 2012 08:17
Seeing as the facebook comments section is malfunctioning, I'll repose my comment here. (Also, below: pogroms? Get over yourself.)

Yet more tedious ramblings from the TCF about "God's love" and "religious dialogue." Donnez-moi un break.

You continue to miss the most simple and most fundamental point that the opponents of TCF have been making: discrimination is against Tufts policy. When you exclude LGBT Christians from leadership positions because of circumstances inherent to their person and beyond their control, you are discriminating against them on the basis of their sexual orientation (in this case), which is forbidden in the non-discrimination policy.

Why should I have to pay for you to discriminate against me? I was, when I paid my Student Activities Fee, under the impression that I would be able to participate fully in all the clubs that funded it.

You say that homosexual relationships are fundamentally unchaste, and then point to the Bible as proof, even though in reality you are simply pointing to your interpretation of the Bible, one that not all Christians, or even all Evangelical Protestants, share. You are not non-denominational, you adhere to a very particular strain of politicized Evangelical Christianity.

Furthermore, your protestations in the Tufts Observer, that you don't agree with groups like the AFA and American Vision ring supremely hollow. You remain in association with IVCF, an Evangelical Protestant organization that associates with hate groups such as these. Your open dehumanization of LGBT people, and your denigration of LGBT Christians as somehow lacking in spiritual wholeness and true conviction, shows you for what you really are.

Tue Oct 23 2012 10:32
Ah yes..., and thus it begins. How long will it be, I wonder, before the pogroms begin?
Mon Oct 22 2012 16:41
Outrageous. Why is it only a Christian club that this action is being taken against? This oppresses the religious liberty of the students in this organization. Christian students have every right to expect that the leaders of this club are faithful committed Christians (not perfect) but committed to follow the basic values of a Christian. Disallowing this is the same as disallowing the requirement that they be Tufts students. This is the action of a totalitarian body --- perhaps the name should change from Union Judiciary to The Politiburo?
Mon Oct 22 2012 13:19
If that were true, Tom, then the TCUJ would have to start derecognizing every singly religious group on campus that it currently funds because they also have basic faith requirements for their leaders. Goodbye, Hillel, goodbye every other religious group on campus. Meanwhile, the same argument on funding holds true for the members of those religious groups on campus: why should they pay to go to a school that does not allow them to practice their own beliefs when those groups merely ask that their leaders abide to the most basic beliefs of that faith? As a non-Muslim student, I would not be offended if the Muslim Student's Association did not let me become a leader in their community--faith groups that the right to ask that their members are in line with the beliefs of that faith. This is an issue of religious freedom.
Finally, in regards to the Protestant focus--I've never met a practicing Christian that could not accept the statement of faith and still be considered Christian according to the traditional and universal understanding of the term. Do you know Catholics or Orthodox Christians who don't acknowledge God as Creator, his son as Jesus Christ, the principle of the trinity, and the Bible as the written Word?

Again, this is an issue of freedom of religion. Not allowing faith-based groups to ask their leaders to agree with a basis of faith is not only unfair and nonsensical but is in direct opposition to the personal liberties to which every student is entitled.

Mon Oct 22 2012 11:31
While I think the TCF is probably the worst most unTufts of all Tufts Orgs (see the last line of the basis of faith for why), I think it is strange to pull a groups funding based on the word "should". "Must" would be discriminatory. "Should" is just a suggestion, even if it is strong.

I'm sure there are much better more legitimate ways to pull this groups funding.

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