Oxford University students have banned a Christian union from their college freshers’ fair after saying the religion is ‘damaging’ and ‘an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism’.
Student union officials at Balliol prevented representatives from attending and warned that the society could cause ‘harm’ by setting up a stall at the event.
The decision was revealed in a leaked email chain that has sparked fury across the college.
Vice president Frederick Potts told Christian union representatives: ‘Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice.
‘It is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.’
Organisers also claimed that the popular fair was a ‘secular space’ and that they ‘didn’t want to monopolise the presence of any individual faith’, reports the Cherwell student newspaper.
But last night furious students passed a motion condemning the ban as a ‘violation of free speech and religious freedom’.
It stated: ‘The Balliol JCR (student union) should not make judgements regarding the legitimacy of faith groups or religious expression.’
The motion prohibits officials from barring any official religious societies from taking part in the fresher’s fair in future.
Eventually organisers agreed to allow a shared multi-faith stall with leaflets but no representatives of religious groups were allowed to attend the event.
Student union president Hubert Au claimed the decision had been reached through discussions with the Christan society.
But that comment was described as ‘misleading’ by a representative for the group, which refused to provide literature for the event.
Balliol college counts Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and journalist Robert Peston among its most famous alumni.
It refused to comment when contacted by MailOnline. Mr Au and Mr Potts have not responded to a request for comment.
Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, told MailOnline: ‘The leading institution in the world founded on Christian principles is forgetting its great history.
‘In Christianity there has been freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom to believe and manifest belief.
‘It is the student union that is rewriting history and using cheap smears to spread falsehoods with regards to Christianity.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Scott Campbell