Tufts Christian Fellowship wavers in pursuit of exemption from non-discrimination policy
Chaplain indicates support for exemption on basis of religious integrity
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:02
The Judiciary, on the other hand, has more specific expectations for any religious group that might decide to apply for TCU recognition for a justified exemption. The Judiciary would expect TCF or any other group to be entirely transparent about what each component of its leadership guidelines entails. This includes any requirement of a certain behavior component, such as sexual chastity, according to Judiciary chair Adam Sax, a senior.
“This whole policy is about transparency,” Sax said. “For me, saying that we believe in chastity — I want to know what that means. That’s going to have to be spelled out.”
Circling the bureaucratic legalese that has characterized the recent debate over TCF’s leadership selection has been the issue of sexuality. TCF was reprimanded over a decade ago for allegedly denying a TCF member in 2001 a leadership position because she was openly gay. TCF in that case lost — and then regained through a CSL ruling — its TCU recognition. While the debate this time has almost never explicitly referenced how TCF’s Basis of Faith and leadership requirements restrict on the basis of sexuality, it remains a sticking point for those who accuse TCF of discrimination.
Senior Brandon Archambault, who has been active in the TCF controversy as a former TCF member, the complainant in a Judiciary case involving TCF, an advocate for the group’s defunding and a current leader in the Coalition Against Religious Exclusion, said the CSL policy has backed TCF into a corner on that issue.
If TCF leadership were to spell out exactly what its rules for sexual chastity were, he said, the group would be forced to admit to that its religious doctrine with regards to chastity holds a double standard that bars non-heterosexual relationships.
“Heterosexual sex is okay [for TCF] within certain limitations, like marriage,” Archambault said. “It’s not in and of itself wrong, it’s only contextually wrong. Homosexual acts are in of themselves wrong all the time, no exceptions.”
Five TCF leaders — Laporte, senior Elaine Kim, senior Emmanuel Runes, senior Ezichi Ednah Nwafor and junior Ji-Sun Ham — declined to comment on whether the Vision and Planning Team has a consensus on how the Basis of Faith applies to sexual behavior or orientation. TCF leaders in 2011 confirmed to the Daily that, based on their value system, they saw any homosexual act as “unchaste.”
“You can date,” former TCF Vision and Planning Team member Wai Cheng (LA ’11), told the Daily in a Dec.7, 2011 article, “but, according to our beliefs, [only] in a heterosexual relationship.”
“If there’s a student who is actively engaged in a homosexual relationship, that’s also not sexually chaste,” former TCF leader and current Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Team Leader Alexandra Nesbesda (LA ’06) added in the article.
According to the student leaders handbook produced by IVCF, it is unacceptable for a Christian to engage in a homosexual encounter. On page 87 of the section “Understanding Your Campus Culture, the handbook reads: “Is it okay to have a homosexual encounter? ... A Christian says ‘no,’ because immorality as defined in the Bible offends God and brings harm to the individuals involved.”
In analyzing TCF’s constitutional leadership requirements, an important distinction lies in the difference between sexual orientation and action, Archambault said. If TCF or InterVarsity discriminated based solely on sexual orientation, Laporte said, she would not have chosen to be a leader in TCF. Laporte wrote last semester in an op-ed in the Daily that she is attracted to both men and women, but would not act on her attraction unless she was married to a man.