I’ve been covering the ongoing struggle at my alma mater, Bowdoin College, between the administration and Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, an evangelical group led by Rob Gregory. Gregory, a close friend of mine, is becoming a household name to readers of my blog, and as of today he’s known as well to the readership of First Things.
You may remember Rob as the volunteer one Bowdoin administrator charitably linked to Jerry Sandusky (with no apology despite being confronted on this matter). Vitriol aside, Rob just published a stirring piece entitled “Bowdoin Told Us to Go” that walks through his experience in recent months at the college.
As I’ve noted, the events at Bowdoin are part of the larger trend of “bias policies” being used to bring religious groups to heel. Rob paints a vivid picture of the struggle and of the need for persevering faith:
It is curious to be accused of advocating for discrimination. My wife and I were prison ministers in the late 1970’s, pastors of a Cambodian church involved in resettling refugees from Pol Pot in the early 1980’s; we travelled to the Cambodian border to visit them in UN refugee camps, pastors of a Chinese immigrant church in the 1990’s with refugees fleeing human rights abuse in China, and I am currently an asylum trial lawyer for victims of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. So why do we argue for the right to discriminate?
Were the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship to agree to the College policy of non-discernment, it would forfeit the means of forming, holding, and making public the Christian beliefs it was trying to preserve. In a word, one cannot both affirm the non-discrimination policy of the College which rejects doctrinal statements, and then plead for the College to give the freedom to require leaders to affirm in behavior and belief the doctrinal statement so rejected.
Read the whole thing. These sentiments, I’m guessing, will be more and more common among campus ministry workers throughout America. Campus ministry has flourished in America for 60-70 years. The future will likely bring fresh challenges. In the face of them, the work goes on, and God goes with it.
The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, but God’s gospel will never fail.
Come what may, I’m so thankful for Rob, for the work of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campuses across the nation and world, and for a God who gives us all the grace we need to endure the hardships of fallen-world Christianity.
(NYT image by Katherine Taylor of Bowdoin student Esther Nunoo praying for Gregory–I love this picture.)