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Friday, January 05, 2007

Exeter CU suspended

'Christian Union takes legal action over suspension'
Alexandra Smith
Friday January 5, 2007

A Christian Union suspended from using student facilities at the University of Exeter is taking legal action against the student guild under the Human Rights Act, it emerged today.

The Exeter CU was suspended from the official list of student societies, had its student bank account frozen, and was banned from free use of student guild premises because Exeter's student guild claims the CU constitution and activities did not conform to its equal opportunities policies.

The rest from the Guardian article is here.

I mention this not because I want to make any value judgment but because a) I was at Exter for a short time and, obviously, many theology students were in the Christian Union and b) this debate could presumably spread across the country. I know several Christian Union members at Sheffield so this could be a upcoming problem. The Christian Union students I know have explained to me the splits and politics involved with the CU and related groups (all to do with evangelicals and charismatics, right?) and, if I remember rightly, I'm pretty sure that the CU remain the biggest Christian student group, and probably one of the biggest student union groups. Anyway, the whole issue seems to have a number of the usual tensions surrounding free speech and liberalism that will be present across the UK universities and it may well be worth watching to see what happens with this one.


Blogger J. B. Hood said...


Loved the interview. Project on socio-political angle on post-war scholarship sounds excellent. Can't wait to hear some SBL lectures on that stuff. I've always thought there should be more "critical analysis" of history of scholarship at SBL etc.
Most of the "reviews of scholarship" turn out to be hagiographic and nostalgic...

January 07, 2007

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

It has come to that, that the biggest (or one of the biggest) societies is treated as fringe or extreme. Well, I suppose if you are an abortion-supporting, marriage-loathing, non-debating, non-researching fundie lib.hum. then it will be extreme to you and your gang. And your credo will read:

(1) All normal people are like us. They don't have to support their position with argument, because the only crterion for holding a position is whether it is fashionable or not. Never mind what forces may be at work to make it be seen as so-called fashionable;
(2) The modern liberal west is the only society there is, or ever has been;
(3) Even the west has never been any other way. Apart from in the unmentionable Victorian times when we did unspeakable things like lead the world in engineering and invent all the major sports.

Rant over - you will be relieved to hear.

January 08, 2007

Blogger James Crossley said...

Hello JBH: quite agree.

Well Christopher, I'd not want to cross you at the moment! ;-)

January 10, 2007

Blogger Noel Slevin said...

I don't expect Sheffield C.U. to experience any difficulties with the University of Sheffield Student Union. The C.U. and the S.U. seem to have a healthy relationship at the moment.

January 10, 2007

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Well, yeah.
It did make me think: why on earth have we been tolerating people holding offices representative of other students who are in some cases actively encouraging (and regularly condoning) mums to kill their own babies (which is basically what it is: let's not split hairs). Now a ban in that case would make good logical sense. But in this case...well, the CU are unlikely terrorists it has to be said. They are generally a pretty friendly, cuddly, close-family lot, and the very last people to be classified as a liability on campus or to do all the awful things that students get up to!!!
Accordingly, the interesting question is really: what are these guild officers afraid of? And the answer is (as in the case of Brother Roger's martyrdom) innocence - because it shows them up.

January 11, 2007

Blogger James Crossley said...

Though I suspect our personal ethics would be poles apart Christopher, I will say I don't agree with banning groups, no matter how disagreeable we find their ideology. I think the decision is not a good one by the Exeter SU (assuming the report is accurate) and bans a debate.

Glad to hear that it won't happen at Sheff Noel.

January 11, 2007

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

ok - would that be personal ethical theory or practice then? If the former, I wd be grateful if sometime you could direct me to an apologia for an alternative view as certain things seem quite self-evident to me that no doubt are not (then again, maybe they are).

It's a funny thing but I wouldn't think twice about supporting some bans. If a group arose calling itself the Racist Society or the Rat-Eating Society (and was as good as its word) then obviously I'd be in favour of a ban. Not to mention the Child Sacrifice Society - but I will leave you to contemplate which of the three is worst, and also which is closest to the modern 'Bay Area Seminarians in Theology and Related Disciplines' against whom I am railing.
Btw your book came in the shop yesterday and I have spent a couple of happy half-hours with it - more anon

January 12, 2007


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