A thriving Christian student group at Harvard University faces an uncertain future after the school placed it on administration probation for one year.
Harvard College Faith and Action (HCFA) offers Bible studies, worship, and other activities for more than 200 students every week.
It’s been a recognized student organization which allows it to use campus venues and recruit at student activity fairs according to The Crimson, the Harvard student newspaper. Now, it’s not clear if those privileges will continue during its probationary year.
The problem, according to the paper, centers around HCFA’s student leadership asking an “assistant Bible course leader,” who is a student, to step down over a theological disagreement about sexuality.
HCFA student leaders Molly Richmond and Scott Ely told The Crimson, “Our theological view is that – for professing Christians who are in leadership – celibacy is the only option outside the bounds of marriage.”
The Crimson reports that the student in question had revealed to HCFA leaders that she was pursuing a lesbian relationship.
A university spokesman told the paper that HCFA violated expectations outlined in the Office of Student Life’s student organization policy guide and said that if it re-registers as a student organization in 2019 it must demonstrate that it’s in compliance with Harvard’s nondiscrimination policies.
Ely and Richmond, however, told the paper, “We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship.” They said HCFA character standards apply to all student leaders, regardless of sexual orientation.
Alex Miller, the associate dean of student engagement at Harvard, told CBN News that the university is working closely with HCFA to ensure that it’s in compliance with its policies for recognized student organizations. “While we will not discuss specific details regarding discipline of students or organizations we look forward to continuing our work and dialogue with HCFA,” he said.
CBN News has attempted to contact Ely and Richmond for more information about the situation.
HCFA partners with the Christian Union for pastoral and financial support but HCFA student leaders make decisions regarding the group’s governance and leadership.
HCFA began in 2008 as a group of eight freshmen meeting for Bible study. It reports that it received recognition from Harvard in 2009 as an official student organization.
Their website states, “We are a gospel-centered community that welcomes students from all backgrounds. Our ministry emphasizes leadership development, rigorous study of scripture, helping the needy and active involvement in campus life.”