Tufts Christian Fellowship accepts de-funding on basis of views on sexuality

Back in 2000, the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) lost funding and recognition from the Tufts Community Union (TCU) for removing a gay member, Julie Catalano, from her leadership position. Catalano had been “trying to reconcile her sexual orientation with her religious beliefs for her three years at Tufts and, at the end of her junior year, came to the conclusion that her religious beliefs about homosexuality had changed, and that she no longer wanted to pray to change.”

Shortly after its 2000 defunding, TCF regained recognition through a Committee on Student Life (CSL) ruling. Last semester TCF’s funding and recognition was once again pulled by TCU on the basis of the Christian group’s continued requirement that any TCF member who wishes to be in a leadership position adhere to their eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity,” which were authored by the group’s parent organization, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. In the 2000 instance, “TCF stated that their policies were not discriminatory, that they allowed gay members as long as members fundamentally upheld basic tenets of Christianity, ie: they allowed gay members as long as those members shared the belief that homosexuality was inconsistent with Biblical teachings and, fundamentally, that being gay was a sin.”

This tenet of their group has not changed, and this morning the TCF notified the TCU that they would not seek reinstatement as an official Tufts student group, thus losing TCU funding, recognition, and the ability to use the Tufts University name and logo in the context of their group. TCF had a chance to re-apply for student group status under the Committee on Student Life’s new “justified exemption” policy that would exempt the group from Tufts’s nondiscrimination policy for student groups.

In a Tufts Daily article from the Feb. 6 issue, Brandon Archambault ’13, a former member of TCF, elucidates the reasoning behind the group’s decision not to re-apply; the  TCF’s bylaws do not specifically reference homosexual activity as a preclusion for leadership, only “sexual chastity.”

“If TCF leadership were to spell out exactly what its rules for sexual chastity were, [Archambault] 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. In analyzing TCF’s constitutional leadership requirements, an important distinction lies in the difference between sexual orientation and action, [he] said.”

In their e-mail to the TCU, TCF leaders wrote, “An exemption on the basis of sexual orientation does not allow us to make the distinction between sexual orientation and expression that we hold. Though we desire to be a part of the Tufts community, we accept de-recognition.”

In fiscal year 2013, TCF received $7,440 in funding. The group will remain a chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. You can access our past coverage of the TCF saga here and here.


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