Oxford College Bans Attendance of Christian Group at School Fair

A Christian organization for students at an Oxford University college in the UK was banned from attending a fair for freshman called the “Freshers Fair”. The ban was put in place out of fear that the attendance of the Christian group would potentially “alienate” students of other religions.

The Christian Union of Oxford’s Balliol College was initially banned by an event organizer who felt students might feel “unwelcome” due to what he calls the Christian religion being “an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism,” according to The Times of London.

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“We recognise [sic] the wonderful advantages in having CU representatives at the freshers fair but are concerned that there is potential for harm to freshers who are already struggling to feel welcome in Oxford,” Frederick Potts, reportedly said in an email addressed to the student Organization. Potts is the vice president of the undergraduate student body.

Potts continued: “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

Fox News reports:

Potts, according to The Daily Telegraph, said that event organizers initially wanted the fair to be a “secular space” because they were unsure if “every major belief system” would have a spot at the student fair.

“Many students, especially students of colour and of other faiths, may already feel alienated and vulnerable in Oxford, a university with a reputation for racism and lack of diversity, and a city with barely any appropriate places of worship for non-Christians,” Potts said, according to The Telegraph.

According to The Guardian, Organizers of the fair later agreed to permit one stall for all of the religious groups to share and display brochures. However, that option was “boycotted” by The Christian Union”

A Church of England spokesperson explained to The Times that said ban went against “freedom of religion and belief,” and “is at odds with the kind of society we are all seeking to promote.”

Leaders of the Balliol student body reportedly condemned the ban, and passed a motion calling the ban a “violation of free speech, a violation of religious freedom, and sets dangerous precedents regarding the relationship between specific faiths and religious freedom,” according to The Daily Telegraph.

Balliol student body leaders spoke out against the ban while also passing a motion claiming the ban was a “violation of free speech, a violation of religious freedom, and sets dangerous precedents regarding the relationship between specific faiths and religious freedom” The Daily Telegraph reported.

This motion strictly prohibits officers from banning any religious societies from attending future freshman fairs.

“We are pleased to see that the students themselves have now resolved this matter. Following last night’s JCR motion, the Christian Union will be offered a stall at future freshers’ fairs,” a Balliol College spokesperson said. Adding that “Balliol is a tolerant, friendly college where students of all faiths and none are free to worship and express their beliefs openly.” [SIC]


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