Tufts University to Reconsider Status of Christian Group

A school panel has ruled that the university failed to follow proper procedure when it "derecognized" the campus group

The Tufts Christian Fellowship and the Tufts University Public Relations office issued statements May 16 concerning the school's decision to overturn an earlier decision to deny the evangelical group official status because of its refusal to allow a lesbian member to assume a leadership role. Both statements follow.

Press release from the Tufts Christian Fellowship:

An appeals board of Tufts University today unanimously overturned the"derecognition" of the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF). "We are verygrateful that Tufts has decisively restored religious freedom to thecampus," said Curtis Chang, affiliate chaplain at Tufts and campusminister to TCF.

TCF student leaders expressed relief that they can remain on campus as afully legitimate group. TCF student leader Sarah Janson declared, "We areso glad we can worship Jesus on campus in the fall, and we invite everyoneof every sexual orientation to join us." Graduating senior Chin Parkexclaimed, "I can now walk in this week's commencement exercises proudlyas a Christian who belongs here!"

Students emphasized that they can now focus on carrying out the group'smission. "We're not a group hung up about demanding this or thatright," explained TCF student Ohene Asare, "we're about sharing the loveof God wth everyone at Tufts."

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Asare also voiced hope for reconciliation with Julie Catalano, the gaystudent who filed the complaint that led to the expulsion of theTCF. "We've always welcomed her as a member regardless of herorientation," said Asare. "She's our friend and we hope she'll come back."

The case highlighted how colleges and universities increasingly arebanning evangelical Christian groups over their religious beliefs abouthomosexuality. Currently, groups at Middlebury College in Vermont,Whitman College in Oregon, Grinnell College in Iowa, and Williams Collegein Massachusetts have been or are facing expulsion in situations identicalto Tufts.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship--the national organization overseeingTCF and the other threatened student groups--expressed hope that thistrend will be reversed. Phil Evans, spokesperson for InterVarsity,commented: "These other schools should look at Tufts and realize what'sobvious: that Christians shouldn't be discriminated against for theirbeliefs. " Chang agreed, saying, "Tufts now has a wonderful opportunityto exercise leadership on this issue and protect true religious diversityacross the country."

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