A Christian students’ club at Harvard University has been placed on “administrative probation” for a year for following Christian ethics.
The stunning attack on faith was reported by the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which said the office of Student Life punished the Harvard College Faith and Action after members pressured a female member of its leadership team to resign after she decided to date a woman.
The idea that a Christian students organization would require its leaders to follow basic Christian teachings was found offensive by college spokeswoman Aaron Goldman, who announced the move.
Golden told the Crimson in an email, “After a thorough review and finding that HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in [the Office of Student Life’s] Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, OSL has placed HCFA on a one year administrative probation.”
Harvard officials did not specify how the Christian students violated the school’s “expectations,” the paper said.
HCFA co-presidents Scott Ely and Molly Richmond said the college condemned the students for their “relationship with Christian Union” and also their “standards” for leaders.
The Family Research Council in Washington said colleges “should be celebrating students with a purity standard – not punishing them!”
“Yet that’s exactly what Harvard University is doing to a Christian group on campus,” said Tony Perkins’ Washington Update.
“Administrators have decided that living out the tenets of your faith will cost you — in this case, a year-long probation.”
FRC outlined the background: There was an assistant Bible course leader who was excited about a “new relationship.”
Finally, she told others, there was someone who makes her “laugh, feel safe … and challenges her to be a better person.”
The catch was that the woman’s new friend was a woman.
“After sitting down and talking through the situation, members of the group decided to ask her to step down from her leadership role,” the FRC report said.
“Since then, HCFA has come under intense attack from Harvard administration, who decided to put the club on a year-long probation, the first in the school’s history.”
A school official said that for the club to be restored, its members will have to prove they don’t “discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Ely and Richmond say nothing could be further from the truth.
“We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship,” they said. “Broadly speaking, the student in this case was removed because of an irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards.”
FRC said HCFA’s guiding principles clearly state that any extramarital sexual activity is wrong, and that is the standard the students applied.
Noted FRC: “Our nation is desperate for young people with solid, moral principles – and this is how we treat them? It’s a sad commentary on the state of our culture that one of the most prestigious colleges in America doesn’t grasp the concept of religious freedom. For now, these students are getting quite a lesson in what’s awaiting them in the world, where religious groups everywhere are having to fight for the right to apply their standards. And while Ely and Richmond may not have school administrators in their corner, they have something far more important: the Constitution.”
Congress has a proposal that would make it “quite clear that harassment like Harvard’s won’t be tolerated,” said FRC, which noted the Christian club might challenge the school’s punishment.
The Crimson said the group’s character standards don’t specifically address homosexuality, but they do insist leaders should refrain from sex before marriage and honor God in their romantic relationships.
“Our theological view is that – for professing Christians who are in leadership – celibacy is the only option outside the bounds of marriage,” the student leaders explained, a standard that applies regardless of sexual orientation.