Tu quoque

It seems there’s been a spot of bother recently between some students’ unions and some university Christian Unions.

Most university CUs in the UK are affiliated to the UCCF, an avowedly evangelical organisation which sprang out of our old friend, CICCU, in 1836 (or something). Exeter’s SU apparently wants the CU to stop making members sign up to the UCCF doctrinal basis. This is clearly the right thing to do, as the part about imputed righteousness is nonsense, as N.T. Wright (no relation) argues cogently in What St Paul Really Said (gjm11 also won this argument a while ago, if anyone like nlj21 is interested).

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the University and the SU denied the use of campus facilities for the CU to run Pure, a course for Christians teaching typically evangelical attitudes to sex, because they didn’t like the bit about gays (this appears to be an illustration of the power of Facebook, by the way). Legal action has been threatened by the CUs.

It’s nice to see the young people enjoying themselves, I suppose. I’m reminded of the saying that academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so low.

There are lots of people squealing about persecution, but I also read some of the more balanced views of the recent controversy. Cartoon Church has a good set of links to other thoughtful postings.

Christians are not being persecuted by not getting free or cheap rooms via the SU, any more than gays are by a course run by evangelicals for evangelicals which, as an aside to the main topic of “Evangelical Guilt 101: Wanking and how to avoid it” (link to a hilarious Pure session plan, mildly NSFW), says what Christianity always has pretty much always said about homosexuality. Both sides look petty and keen to be perceived as persecuted.

Some SUs and CUs have come to an understanding without turning the whole thing into a culture war. CUs can disaffiliate from the SU and maintain their oligarchy (I recall being delighted to learn, while I was a member of CICCU, that this was the correct term for their method of government). SUs can stop their extreme sports version of being Gruaniad readers. Everyone wins.

Alas, one troublesome priest has rumbled the fact that CUs are actually part of our plan to turn middle-of-the-road Christians into atheists. Sometimes it’s a protracted process, to be sure, but our mills also grind exceeding small. Look everyone, over there: a lawsuit! (That ought to do it).

5 Comments on "Tu quoque"

  1. I’d never realised that the CUs were anything more than “That space what was put aside for Christians to hang about in.” I had no idea they were so evangelical or, indeed, affiliated to one particular sect.


    1. Yes.

      The name is rather misleading, as it certainly isn’t a union of all Christians.

      This was explained to me rather well when I was in the CU though. The other “Christians” aren’t really Christians at all, and hence we remain a union of all Christians.


    2. They’re not denominational, certainly, but rather, they’ll take the evangelical cross-section of various denominations.

      CUs character probably varies a lot according to how much the leaders want to take the UCCF line. At Cambridge, college groups tended to be more flexible than the central meetings in town. If you never went to the central meetings (which some people didn’t), you might end up with a fluffier impression of CICCU than their official line would suggest. At other places, the CU does seem to be more agressively evangelical in all its manifestations.


  2. Obviously the reason that I’ve remained a Christian is that I had insufficient contact with CICCU (who managed to wind me up fairly thoroughly when I was first a student).

    Of course, by CICCU’s definition, they almost certainly would say that I’m not a Christian, so maybe that holds doubly: if I’d been indoctrinated more, I’d have to agree with them 🙂


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