Following Controversy, Oxford College Student Union Lifts Ban on Christian Union After Deeming It ‘Harmful’ to Students

(PHOTO: REUTERS/PAUL HACKETT)
A group of graduates gather after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, England, May 28, 2011.

An Oxford University college student union has decided it will now allow the Christian Union to participate in future freshers’ fairs, following controversy over its initial ban.

BBC News reported on Tuesday that organizers have allowed religious groups to take part at future fairs, with Balliol College declaring it is pleased “the students themselves have now resolved this matter.”

“The Christian Union will be offered a stall at future freshers’ fairs,” a college spokesman added.

“Balliol is a tolerant, friendly college where students of all faiths and none are free to worship and express their beliefs openly.”

A Christian Union spokeswoman added that such an incident is “a pretty rare experience” and has been “amicably resolved.”

A leaked email chain reported on by Oxford University student newspaper Cherwell on Sunday revealed that the student union had banned the Christian stall at the fair, wishing to keep it a “secular space.”

“We recognize the wonderful advantages in having CU representatives at the Fresher’s Fair, but are concerned that there is potential for harm to freshers who are already struggling to feel welcome in Oxford,” student union Vice President Freddy Potts reportedly said.

“Christianity’s influence on many marginalized communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism,” Potts continued in his argument expressing his opposition to the Christian Union.

The event organizers eventually agreed to allow a shared multi-faith stall, but representatives of religious groups were still barred from participating.

Students passed a motion unanimously on Sunday calling the decision a “violation of free speech and religious freedom,” however.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post – Stoyan Zaimov