Harvard University Christian group ‘forced out’ Bible study leader because she’s bisexual
A Harvard University Christian group has been placed on probation – after allegations it tried to force out its Bible study leader because she was in a same-sex relationship.
The allegations emerged this week about the Harvard College Faith and Action group (HCFA) at Harvard University.
The Harvard Crimson student newspaper broke allegations that the group is alleged to have forced a Bible study course leader to step down from her position because she was dating another woman.
The newspaper says it spoke to “12 current and former members of HCFA” and obtained “documents, emails, and text messages” that confirmed that te Bible Study leader, who has asked not to be named, was forced out because of her sexuality.
The Harvard College Student Handbook lays out guidelines which states that student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation”.
Following the allegations the university sprung into action.
In a statement to the outlet, a Harvard spokesperson said: “After a thorough review and finding that HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in the Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, the [Office for Student Life] has placed HCFA on a one year administrative probation.”
HCFA leaders Scott Ely and Molly L Richmond expanded in a statement: “Earlier today, we met with an administrator who informed us that the College would place HCFA on probation, citing our relationship with [parent organisation] Christian Union as well as our standards for leaders.
“We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship.
“Broadly speaking, the student in this case was removed because of an irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards.
“Our theological view is that—for professing Christians who are in leadership—celibacy is the only option outside the bounds of marriage.
“We have applied and do apply this policy regardless of sexual orientation.”
The story comes days after the HCFA came under fire for hosting a gay ‘cure’ speaker.
Evangelical campaigner Jackie Hill Perry claims to have been “saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin”, and regularly appears in Christian media to promote the discredited idea that people can be ‘converted’ from gay to straight through Christianity.
She spoke to students at Harvard last week via an event held by the ‘Harvard College Faith & Action’ society, an evangelical group on campus.
The event organisers had claimed ahead of the event that she was there to “foster respectful dialogue about sexual ethics for Christians” and not to “promote homophobia or conversion therapy”.
She said: “There is not such a thing as being born gay, but there is such a thing as being born broken, broken by sin.
“The model for how we are to deny ourselves, whether that applies to our greed, to our lust, self-denial is not optional for the Christian.”
The event, which took place in the university-owned Emerson Hall, faced a small gathering of protesters including both students and professors from the university.
Divinity professor Ahmed Ragab told the outlet: “The history of this speaker and the things that she keeps promoting are things that basically alienate and threaten the existence of queer students on campus.
“I think it is a problem to have a speaker that promotes this kind of discourse.”
Gay cure therapy has been condemned by every reputable medical and therapeutic body.
The discredited practice that has been linked to depression, self-harm and suicide.
However, it remains prevalent on the extreme fringes of evangelical Christianity, and is also frequently advocated inside denominations including the Mormon and Catholic churches.
Gay cure therapy is illegal in nine US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.
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British health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: “The Department does not hold an estimate of the number of people that have undertaken gay conversion therapy.
“In 2017, the Government Equalities Office carried out a survey of the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United Kingdom, which included several questions about gay conversion therapy.
“Whilst not a statistically representative sample, the survey received over 100,000 responses and will help us improve our understanding of the numbers of people who have undergone, or have been offered, gay conversion therapy.
“This is an issue the Government is keeping under review and we are constantly working towards improving the evidence base.”
She added: “The Government rejects utterly the notion that sexuality is something to be cured, and condemns gay conversion therapy.
“The evidence base is clear that conversion therapy is not only ineffective, but is potentially harmful to participants.
“That is why officials have worked with the main registration and accreditation bodies for psychotherapy and counselling practitioners, including the UK Council for Psychotherapy, to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to help put a stop to this bogus treatment.”