POST DEBATE: Unreasonable Action of Student Guild; Pod Bhogal, Communications Director for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Explains Why He Thinks Some Clubs Should Be Allowed to Restrict Membership

Article excerpt

Byline: Pod Bhogal, communications director

In a recent radio interview, a spokesman for the Birmingham Students Union said he would defend the right of an atheist to lead the Christian Union.

Birmingham Guild president Richard Angell says that: "We have to ensure by the 1994 Education Act that all of our societies are open to [all] students' membership" and "we have to ensure that our members have the right to hold positions within [all] the organisations".

While we welcome the guild's desire to create a fair and tolerant culture on campus, we believe that they have misunderstood and misapplied the 1994 Education Act.

And that, in the aim of creating tolerance, they are in effect creating a culture of intolerance and discrimination.

It is absolutely reasonable for a Christian Union to restrict its membership to those who profess Christian beliefs. An ideological group has every right to have in its membership only those who support the ideology.

So, for example, would you expect a student Conservative association to have left wing Marxists on its membership? No? Neither would I.

Would you expect the Islamic Society to have a Buddhist on its executive? No? Neither would I.

So why does the Birmingham Guild find it so remarkable that CUs expect to have Christians as the ones leading and belonging to their society?

It surely ought to be a truism that the members and executives of a Christian Union are Christians.

The Guild's actions are unreasonable and contrary to a policy document offering guidelines for universities in this area to protect the rights of ideological groups. …