Jesus loves you…if you’re straight and male
Links with HOMOPHOBIC church services and DODGY leadership practices has left the Christian Union isolated from the student body, says CHARLES WHITE.
Last year’s exec of Durham’s Christian Union upheld a proposal to rename the traditionally female role of ‘Vice-’ to ‘Co-’ President which subsequently failed to pass in a vote.
The change was put forward in a bid to ‘reflect the current reality’ that responsibility is shared at the head of the group regardless of gender. Disappointed supporters of the motion allege that its failure was due to the majority view that ‘women should not have spiritual authority over men.’
Without ever having a female president, one member reflected, ‘some roles are suited for different genders’ and if it becomes ‘too equal – genders will become the same.’
Constitutionally there’s nothing to stop a woman being President. Fellow faith-group J-Soc had two female co-Presidents last year. But the nature of the motion failure at DICCU would suggest a biased attitude towards who should have what role.
Multiple members expressed concern that CU’s predominant association with Claypath’s Christchurch has an overriding influence on the direction of the group, particularly on social issues and female leadership.
Christchurch calls its Sunday evening service the ‘University Church’ and recently hosted a 54-minute lecture on Same Sex Marriage. It included views such as ‘Christian families are at stake’ and ‘you’re a man or a woman’ and not gender-fluid.
In a statement on the service the incoming exec declined to comment, claiming it was not ‘in our remit’ to condemn it. A member of Durham’s Lesbian, Gay, Trans Association (LGBTA) called the preacher’s claim’s ‘ludicrous’ and ‘definitely transphobic.’ Speaking after the service, Christian Union members surprisingly did not view it as homophobic, but rather, ‘what the Bible taught.’
Implicit through strong associations with Christchurch, the Christian Union risks alienating non-members by appearing tacitly homophobic. A prominent LGBTA member stated ‘for someone who is a religious homosexual, language like this puts happiness and faith at risk.’
DICCU does not do interviews. It’s a ‘no’ from the representatives of Jesus who may be too busy spreading the Good News to address dodgy leadership processes and homophobic language amongst members.
Incoming President, Toby Savill, withdrew from a scheduled interview with The Tab, citing a concern that ‘the premise’ of the article had changed. Despite attempts to speak with other members, there was a distinct impression of a reluctance to speak with The Tab.
DICCU wrote to say that ‘we welcome all students in Durham, regardless of background, gender, creed or identity.’
Now the present exec has a genuine opportunity to address these concerns to maintain its position as a premier Christian organization within campus.