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Chi Alpha’s Side of the Story

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

May 4th, 2009

Matt Herman, the leader of Chi Alpha, has provided more detail about the change in relationship between the organization and Chris Donohoe. I think it adds some useful perspective.

From Explaining a Complex Relationship

Over the last five semesters Chris and I met on almost a weekly basis to talk about life, spirituality, academics, sexuality and Chi Alpha. There is nothing we have avoided in our conversations. Recently, we agreed that our conversations have been some of the most in-depth and meaningful since we both arrived at Cornell. In addition to meeting over lunch, I have been to Chris’ diving meets, traveled in and out of the United States on service projects with him and for a very brief period of time Chris lived with Tracy and me as he was waiting for a summer internship to begin. My point in sharing this with you is that you come to understand one thing about our relationship with Chris: we are friends. I realize that this is hard for some to believe, but even through our conversations this month Chris reaffirmed to me, “I love you both dearly, and it was incredibly hard for me to drag all of this out into the open knowing that it would cause you pain.” His intention: “is not to punish Chi Alpha, but to work through a very complex issue alongside the group.”

In regards to Chris’ position of leadership in Chi Alpha, the process and decision was slow and deeply discussed. Before last summer, Chris sat down with Tracy, another student leader and myself to discuss some interpersonal issues, his changing view toward the Bible concerning homosexuality and his newly developing relationship with another male on campus. It was during this meeting when we communicated Chi Alpha’s nationally held belief that homosexual behavior is a sin and, as with any sin, those who insist and promote sinful behavior should not hold leadership positions. This point is key, so I will reiterate it. The issue is not that Chris feels same-sex attraction. The issue is that he now celebrates what the Bible calls sin. This is inappropriate for a Christian leader.

When the summer ended I had a long conversation with Chris in which he affirmed his decision to live an openly gay life and stated that he now completely disagrees with Chi Alpha’s theological understanding of the issue. It was at this point that Chris was asked to step out of his leadership position in accordance with our previous conversation. As we talked over the phone, we agreed that we did not want our friendship to change and clarified that he was not being asked to leave Chi Alpha.

Over the next few days Tracy and I contacted those leaders within Chi Alpha who had previous knowledge of Chris’ homosexuality and they affirmed the decision to have him removed from leadership, thus solidifying the decision by those leaders with prior involvement. Upon Chris’ request, we did not bring this to the Chi Alpha community at large and kept true to our commitment to keep the decision private until he began sharing the information with others.

I continue to assure religious organizations that gay people, gay couples, gay marriages, and gay lives are no threat to their religious freedom. I invite all of you to join me in making that true.

Comments

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Lindoro
May 4th, 2009 | LINK

Sorry, I disagree.

The bible does not say that I can be less of a leader than an adulterer, a chronic masturbator, a lier, or any number of sins that are listed in it.

A private religious organization can hold any believes that they want, it does not mean that they are correct in their assertion, nor that it is ethical for them to discriminate based on their narrow interpretation of the bible.

Furthermore, in the case of Chi Alpha, that private label was lost the moment they accepted money from the student organization. I find it as hypocritical as the BSA wanting to discriminate yet enjoy their status as a publicly funded organization. If Chi Alpha wants to hold their narrow interpretation of the bible as the only way, they should have not accepted money from an organization that held different views knowing that those views conflicted with some of their chore values.

I understand that the whole thing was done with a good amount of sensitivity and I applaud the leaders of Chi Alpha for at least minding Chris’ feelings. That is commendable, it is also commendable the grace that they have shown. We all know that they could have gone and thrown mud at Chris’ just for being gay. I get all that.

YET, that does not magically immunize Chi Alpha against the responsibility to uphold the end of the bargain that they accepted when they received and accepted money from the Student organization, That money came with strings attached. Those strings were very clear: no discrimination against (among others) Sexual orientation.

If Chi Alpha wants to go back to the way it used to be, they can chose to not accept money from the student organization for next year and face whatever consequences being an outsider might bring to them; be not being able to attend or vote in Student Council meetings, having to pay full price for use of facilities etc. If those are the consequences, well, it is what it is. Acting like a victim and playing the “please don’t hate us we did what the bible told us to do” do not fly in this situation.

Pliny
May 4th, 2009 | LINK

Lindoro:

Your BSA comparison is right on. Chi Alpha has the right to select it’s leadership as it sees fit. Chi Alpha does not have the right to violate the policies of the instituaion funding it.

Lucrece
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

These gays annoy me to no end. The Rudy Giuliani gays.

The ones who allow themselves to be trampled over and let themselves be used as the token gay friend by some Christians to try to show just how wonderfully tolerant they are.

jOHN
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

hum….he lived with Tracy and Matt….no mention of them being married…

Christopher Waldrop
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Pliny and Lindoro, I agree with you both, but I also want to focus on Timothy’s concluding statement that religious people don’t need to be afraid because gay people “are no threat to their religious freedom”.

The issue here, ultimately, is not one of religious freedom, but Chi Alpha is being dishonest by trying to make it into one. They want money, and when it’s taken away they cry that their “religious freedom” is under attack. They can’t have it both ways. It also sounds like Chris tried to address this within the organization, to work with them, and was rejected. Maybe the members of Chi Alpha should consider the fact that they’re punishing a former member and friend for being what he is, and for being honest about it. Hey, he’s being honest. That’s more than can be said for them.

Bruce Garrett
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

I appreciate that a religious organization must have freedom of association in accordance with its beliefs. I appreciate that they have the right to decide membership and leadership on the basis of their beliefs. But do they need to do that on other people’s dime? And does a university need to fund a group…any group…that has as a foundational belief the lesser status of other students?

Would this be any different if they believed, as Mormons once did, that black people were black because they were cursed by God? Doesn’t a university also have a responsibility to, at minimum, maintain an environment of mutual respect for all its students?

It would be a different story I think, if Chris Donohoe announced he wasn’t a Christian anymore. As I understand it, he still identifies as Christian, but also now as a gay man. So this isn’t an issue about his Christianity. It’s about his sexual orientation. There is nothing complex about this. Chi Alpha, like a lot of ersatz Christian organizations, have elevated opposition to homosexuality to a status higher then belief in the resurrection. They have that right. But a university has an obligation to its students, to its own ideals in the pursuit of knowledge, to oppose intolerance.

Brian Torwelle
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

The thing is that the Bible says that EVERYONE is a sinner. So, why is homosexuality the one sin that just can’t be dealt with like any other?

Pomo
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

The comments here make it clear to me that most of you have no understanding of how evangelicals think. And I don’t see anyone trying to understand but rather just saying the other side is wrong.

Even though evangelicals may make asses out of themselves to the rest of the world, I think religious liberty is worth defending. So the complaint is about them taking student fee funds. But reality is lots of organizations take our tax money or student fee funds that we don’t support. I certinly don’t want my tax money going to planned parenthood or to pay for cable for prision inmates. Those things don’t benefit me and they discriminate against me. So should they stop receiving funding?

It sounds like Chris knew the seperation was coming. And in the end it will be best for him. I seperated I once wanted to remain friends with my evangelical acquaintences but soon their hatred of homosexuality drove me away. Chris will be better off without them.

To the evangelical, it is not a matter of being a sinner (though they certinly DO believe that being gay is worse than their sin) but it is a matter of someone “living in sin” or doing something evangelicals think is sin without feeling sorry about it. So if you’re an exgay and hooking up on the side but trying to stop you’re ok…

GaySolomon
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Pomo writes:

“But reality is lots of organizations take our tax money or student fee funds that we don’t support. I certinly don’t want my tax money going to planned parenthood or to pay for cable for prision inmates. Those things don’t benefit me and they discriminate against me. So should they stop receiving funding?”

Lots of things may not benefit you directly, but a civil society still chooses to fund them because they contribute to the good of the collective whole. I appreciate that we may not all agree on what those things are, however, I am mystified as to why religious people think they have a special veto on how public funds are spent.

For instance, I do not understand how tax money supporting planned parenthood “discriminates” against you.

Religious folks need to understand that there is a whole world of things that secular society will fund that they do not like, or of which they do not approve. For example: the emancipation of women, permitting dogs as pets, the sale and regulation of alcohol, the sale and regulation of pork, the sale and regulation of shellfish, the transfusion of blood etc…

Just because your religion forbids it – you are not entitled to veto it. You must make a secular argument and demonstrate material harm to have something banned or prohibited. If you cannot, then I am afraid you are called to tolerate others who practice/use or engage in the thing of which you disapprove.

It can be no other way if you wish to live in an open, tolerant, democratic and free society. Religion is simply an insufficient basis upon which to order society. To think otherwise is to enshrine endless squabbling and conflict over someone’s god, someone’s scripture, someone’s theology, someone’s subjective feelings or someone’s interpretation.

Timothy Kincaid
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

I have a question for those willing to set aside the automatic gay v. Christian reflex and actually look at their own beliefs. And this is not an invitation to ignore the question and replace it with one of your own.

Please be honest with both us and yourself.

The facts are: Chi Alpha does not allow in positions of leadership those students who are living in sin or insisting or promoting sin, as they define it. This includes all of those who are engaging in sexual activity outside of the confines of a heterosexual marriage. Chris Donohoe disagreed with the group about the nature of sexual sin and was removed from leadership.

My question is this:

What if Donohoe were heterosexual and removed from leadership because he supported pre-marital sex?

Would you insist that it was discrimination and if so, on what grounds?

John
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

If the funding rules require that the group not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (along presumably with religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, etc), then it makes no sense to me that a group that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation (for whatever reason) should be funded.

I suppose that a separate question may be at the root of the restored funding for this particular group. If gays are allowed to be members, but are barred from assuming leadership posts, does this constitute a violation of the funding criteria? I personally think that it would, but I suspect that the bylaws are weak on that.

Priya Lynn
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy said “I continue to assure religious organizations that gay people, gay couples, gay marriages, and gay lives are no threat to their religious freedom. I invite all of you to join me in making that true.”.

In a world with finite resources freedom is never absolute. Religious organizations’s right to swing their fist ends where my nose begins. I support religious organizations’s right to live as they choose but when they choose to define religious freedom as the right to control other’s lives that’s going to far. Many define their freedom as the right to prevent gays from marrying, having a job, or a place to live. Some even define their right as the right to execute gays as the bible prescribes. If that’s what they define as freedom I most certainly intend to be a threat to it.

Timothy asked “What if Donohoe were heterosexual and removed from leadership because he supported pre-marital sex? Would you insist that it was discrimination and if so, on what grounds?”.

I’ll get to your question as soon as you answer mine that I previously and repeatedly asked you. Please be honest with both us and yourself.

Assume Chi Alpha believed that blacks were inferior, had no souls, and weren’t deserving of equality. What if a student was removed from leadership because he supported the idea that blacks have souls, are equals, and deserve equality. Would you insist that was discrimination and if so on what grounds?

Pomo
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Clubs are allowed to have leadership requirements last time I checked. If not we’d better shut down every Frat and Sorority in America because they accept people based on how they look, social status, coolness factor etc. The fat, ugly, nerdy types aren’t admitted.

Some don’t want student funds going to a Christian club that doesn’t allow gays to serve in leadership. Some don’t want tax dollars going to planned parenthood to support something questionable from a scientific standpoint.

GAYSOLOMON said “I am mystified as to why religious people think they have a special veto on how public funds are spent.” I feel the same way about the way commentors on this thread are acting about student fees.

PRIYA said “Assume Chi Alpha believed that blacks were inferior, had no souls, and weren’t deserving of equality. What if a student was removed from leadership because he supported the idea that blacks have souls, are equals, and deserve equality. Would you insist that was discrimination and if so on what grounds?”

Thats a faulty comparison. ChiAlpha removed the student not because his views were diffrent but because he was acting on those views by being in a relationship. Atleast thats how they see it. Now if you change your hypothetical question to being “ChiAlpha doesn’t like blacks and a student was actively recruiting black people to join the club” That would be closer to the situation in this article.

Priya Lynn
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Pomo, I don’t buy that Chi Alpha would have acted any differently if he had not been in a relationship.

Priya Lynn
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

And Pomo, just for your sake let’s assume that the student in my scenario were also voting for equal rights for blacks – there, now even according to you the scenario is the same:

Assume Chi Alpha believed that blacks were inferior, had no souls, and weren’t deserving of equality. What if a student was removed from leadership because he supported the idea that blacks have souls, are equals, and deserve equality and voted to provide blacks with equality. Would you insist that was discrimination and if so on what grounds?

Timothy Kincaid
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Pomo, I don’t buy that Chi Alpha would have acted any differently if he had not been in a relationship.

Then you are accusing both Chi Alpha AND Chris Donohoe of lying.

This discussion is getting WAY off track. You want to talk about race and pretty much ANYTHING but the real question:

If Chris Donohoe had been heterosexual, would this have been considered discrimination?

If not, then the discussion is over. If so, then on what basis.

I’ll be deleting the red herrings until we get some answer on the base question.

Diego
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

The premarital opposite marriage stance does not hold weight, because it isn’t a stigma for a guy to be obsessed with girls.

Timothy Kincaid
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

No, Diego.

We aren’t talking abou stiga or culture. We are talking about the rules for leadership at Chi Alpha.

Pomo
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy, it seems that people don’t want to understand that because it requires trying to see things from a different perspective. The comments on this thread make us just as guilty of intolerance as we accuse the otherside of.

Lucrece
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sure, he can be removed from leadership, and it wouldn’t be discrimination UNDER THEIR RULES. Their rules have to cooperate with university anti-discrimination rules, however, if they want the funding. If the university anti-discrimination policies included protection for supporters of pre-marital sex, it would be discrimination.

Their rules are irrelevant, because they want to play on the funded field, where other rules take precedence to theirs.

Lindoro
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Tim:

Well, to answer your question i would be very interested in seeing whether Chi Alpha has indeed Thrown out somebody who was engaging in premarital sex from a leadership position.

Do I see it as discrimination? Yes, the bible does not say that only the pure at heart are the god leaders. But that is besides the point.

From the very beginning I have said that I consider their actions a breach of their responsibility according the the governing body that provided funding for them. I think that making this a religious issue is taking the easy road out.

I will state what I said before. As an organization, they have the right to believe anything they want. if they want to recruit only virgins for their leadership position, yes it is discriminatory, but as a private entity they have the right to do so. Once they accept money from an institution that forbid them from discriminating on the basis of sexual activity, then we are entering in a completely different realm.

Religions are discriminatory by nature. Their acts, unethical as they might be, are legal because they are private institutions and they have the right to discriminate. Chi alpha was and is not a private student group and gave up that label the moment they accepted funding from the Student organization KNOWING quite well that some of their rules conflicted with their chore values.

This has nothing to do with religion; and everything to do with shielding behind religion to do something that they had agreed they were not going to do.

Timothy Kincaid
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Lindoro,

You make a number of assertions of fact about what is required and by whom and who knew what (even using capitalization).

Please provide support for these claims as I think you are mistaken.

Lindoro
May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sure:

This site reported that Chi Alpha received money from either the university of the student organization.

This site also reported that the university has a non discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation.

Given that, it is easy to presume that Chi alpha knew about the non-discrimination policy and the consequences of them accepting any money from the university or their representatives.

Furthermore, it was the opinion of the editors that Chi Alpha had violated Cornell University’s non-discrimination policy:

There is no question these tenets were violated by removing Chris Donohoe ’09 from his leadership position based solely on his sexual orientation. This further suggests that the SAFC has misidentified the issue at hand, and, in turn, their subsequent role in resolving the problem. It is clear from the University’s diversity statement that acts of discrimination and intolerance are not welcome on campus and offer the SAFC a solid basis for revoking Chi Sigma’s funding. Instead, we are currently faced with the reprehensible situation in which Chris continues to pay a student activity fee that funds an organization to which he is not allowed to contribute as a full and equal member.

I have framed my arguments based on these facts and I continue to frame them based on them. I still hold to my position that were they a private organization, Chi Alpha could discriminate on anyone they chose. I still hold to opinion that this might not be ethical, but it is legal if we are talking about a private group. The problem is that we are not talking about a private group because they received and accepted funding from an institution that had a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation. I have not been told that Chi Alpha accepted this money without knowledge of this policy or that they received a waiver from the policy in order to receive the money.

So far, my impression has been that Chi Alpha has tried to frame this discussion based on religion when it has been clear to me that, their religious views aside, they were bound to a non discrimination policy the moment they accepted money from the university.

Chi Alpha has the right to their religious views, but the discussion did not involve religion until they brought it up. The discussion was about the non discrimination policy that should have prevented them from getting rid of someone based exclusively on sexual orientation.

Where did that discussion go? Why is this now about religion?

Trooperz
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

I agree with Tim. And here’s why:

Fundamentally, groups have not just the right, but the necessity, to have leadership that accurately reflects the needs and organization of the group. I believe this is a fundamental principle of what Tim’s trying to say. Let’s take this story, and change the people and places.

Let’s say that instead of a christian group, we’re now dealing with Hillel; a jewish-university organization. Like every other student group, it caters to a select segment of the student population (read: jews). In addition to that though, Hillel activities are open to the whole student population, just like every other student group (read: christians).

Now let’s imagine a scenario where a hundred christians start coming to Hillel. Barring any behavioral issues (“You need to convert.” “Jesus was a jew.”), they are fully entitled to. However, this is where our starting principle, ‘leadership needs to reflect the group ideals’, comes into play. Even though a signifigant percent of Hillel’s participants are no longer jews (since those 100 chrisitans are coming regularly), Hillel still has no obligation to assign a christian to a leadership role.

Does that make them anti-christian? No. It preserves the unique vision of the group. They are allowed to ‘discriminate’ by the exact same principle that allows those 100 christians to create their own student group.

So let’s say those christians create a student group. Maybe they even call it Chi Alpha. They have an obligation to allow non-christian (or, non-dogmatic christians) to their activities. But not to leadership. Why? Because gay christians have every right to create their own student group.

We’ve already covered that Chi Alpha allowed their old leader to their meetings, just not in his old position.

Now guys (and gals), I know that it burns to hear this story. It hits on all of our personal stories, many of which include religious rejection. But I agree with Timothy that this isn’t ultimately a story of gay vs. religion. I hope my example demonstrates that.

Oh, and one other theme that keeps popping up here: if Chi Alpha kept blacks out of leadership because it viewed blacks of inferior.

I totally support their right to do so.

Gasp! Do I like racism? Of course not. Do I tolerate those kinds of views with my friends? Hell no. But that’s the flip side of *Caeser’s* coin. If I defend the right of student groups to exist on the right of like-minded people to assemble (and take a trivial amount of student fees to do so), then I let ALL student groups do so.

p.s. If you want to target a christian student group that removed members, kicked them out of the group entirely, removed them from the christian housing, and said, “Never come back!”, then look no further then Illinilife Christian Fellowship at the University of Illinois. That’s a story that works totally different then this one.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Trooperz:

I comprehend the argument you’re trying to make, and even agree with it to a certain extent.

However, when it comes to homophobia and how certain religious sects engage in it, it seems to me it falls into a category not so easily compared to racism or religious persecution (your “behavioral problem” example).

Let me try to explain what I mean. . .

Although, instead of it being the “visiting” members it’s the members themselves doing the “behavioral problem”. . .

Now let’s imagine a scenario where a hundred christians start coming to Hillel. Barring any behavioral issues (”You need to convert.” “Jesus was a jew.”), they are fully entitled to [attend and participate].

While we wouldn’t condone the obvious anti-semitism, both you and Timothy condone the behavior that gays must “convert”; that is, that it is not discrimination for Chi Alpha to demand that gays denounce their own well-being but decry that Jews (in this example) would be encouraged to do so.

Now, as I’ve said before, I have no problem with Chia Alpha being a legitimate recognized student group or having a presence on campas or deciding who it’s members can be (the right to freedom of associaiton) or who it allows to be it’s “leader”.

But I continue to object to them receiving funding when they’ve agreed to abide by the university’s non-discrimination policies but yet are given a pass when they engage in the “equivalent” of your anti-semitic “behavioral problem.”

As Pyria Lynn (sp?) has pointed out. It’s a double standard that it is applied whenever gays come into the picture. Oh! Because it’s a religious conviction that homosexuality is a deviant and sinful behavior that belief should be given a pass, but if the religious conviction is about blood libel and other forms of anti-semitism, for instance, it would not be tolerated. While the group would still be recognized and allowed to determine it’s membership, the funding would most likely be withdrawn.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

We aren’t talking abou stiga or culture. We are talking about the rules for leadership at Chi Alpha

I haven’t read the post this refers to, but just off hand my reaction is that it does involve both.

You continue to try to draw moral equivalencies that are not morally equivalent behaviors or beliefs; i.e., the denigration of a group of people (or individual) and/or the requirement that a person of that group denounce that they are well-adjusted and equal is not morally equivalent to its opposite.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Addendum:

The reason I said it “involves both” is because it is exactly because of stigma and culture that the double-standard when it comes to the morality of expecting gays to denouonce their well-being is considered to be “acceptable” while it would never be considered “acceptable” in the instance of race or religious belief would result it cries of racism and religious persecution. It’s exactly the card the religious homophobes try to play with regard to them being persecuted and attacked. And to a certain degree they’re right. Just as anti-semitism and racism is “attacked” so should homophobia not be “rewarded”.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Clarification

We aren’t talking abou stiga or culture. We are talking about the rules for leadership at Chi Alpha

I haven’t read the post this refers to, but just off hand my reaction is that it does involve both.

You continue to try to draw moral equivalencies that are not morally equivalent behaviors or beliefs; i.e., the denigration of a group of people (or individual) and/or the requirement that a person of that group denounce that they are well-adjusted and equal is not morally equivalent to its opposite.

The clarification is this:

I’m not opposed to Chi Alpha being able to determine who it’s leaders are.

While the rights of the group to express those beliefs and to determine it’s membership and leadership I would support, it’s the matter of public support in terms of funding I continue to have a problem with.

Because I do not accept the questions of asking something like what if a Gay Group, for instance, rejected as a leader someone promoting ex-gay “ideology”? As the two “iedologies” being promoted are not morally equivalent beliefs/behaviors.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Correction:

“Because I do not accept the questions [as legitimate]“…

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Because my posts here and elsewhere on this subject are pretty much redundant, I’d like to add just one further comment.

Because I do not accept [as legitiamte] the questions of asking something like what if a Gay Group, for instance, rejected as a leader someone promoting ex-gay “ideology”? As the two “iedologies” being promoted are not morally equivalent beliefs/behaviors.

I’ll concede that a question such as “what if a Gay Group, for instance, rejected as a leader someone promoting ex-gay “ideology”?” as being legitimate, BUT only when viewed in the light of discrimination being examined in a “tit-for-tat” context where discrimination is discrimination void of any consideration as to when “discrimination” should be considered acceptable by the larger society and when it shouldn’t be. (Which relates to what I said earlier about two “iedologies” being promoted not necessarily being morally equivalent beliefs/behaviors.)

Bruce Garrett
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

“What if Donohoe were heterosexual and removed from leadership because he supported pre-marital sex?”

I don’t think that’s a comparable issue as long as Chi Alpha believes there is no such thing as marital sex for same-sex couples. There are other Christian groups who are accepting of same-sex relationships, and insist only that gay people abide by the same constraints that heterosexuals must. Why can’t the university fund one of them instead?

ravenbiker
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Fundamentalist Christians love engaging their religion in this way in these debates. Having religous freedom in this country says they’ll win such discussions. And they’ve already won this discussion because this thread degenerated mostly into a theological mess.

And if I remember my history correct, I believe that a basis in this country exist whereby a philanthropist or funding entity is allowed to have its own rules for it’s endowment. If I were a philanthopist, I would want that. I would hope the said University would want the same, too.

This Chi Apha situation is sort of like dad giving you $20 so that you can take a date to Mickey Dee’s and to a matinee and you wind up buy beer instead. As a teenage boy, you think it’s a great way to get into your date’s pants so what inevitably happens is that your date rebukes you and your dad finds the beer cans in the back seat of the car. What would dad do? Chi Alpha’s supporting entity is at fault here for not holding steadfast to it’s own rules. Where’s the discussion to that?

Follow the damn money, people! Protest the school and not Chi Alpha. Because, after all, Chi Alpha has a right to exsist but it hasn’t followed the rules of dear ol’ dad.

Timothy Kincaid
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Lindoro,

You are repeating what others have said and making inferences from those claims. You are factually incorrect.

Stefano,

If you persist in falsely stating what I believe, accusing me of moral equivalences that I did not make, or generally assigning to me beliefs I do not have, I’ll have no choice but to remove your comments.

I would long ago have stopped you from doing this to anyone else and – though I err on the side of lenience when it comes to comments directed towards me – my patience is up.

Jonathan Justice
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

While lots of folks are getting all windy about the abstract issues of this Cornell story, there are a couple of concrete considerations that should be looked at:

The Cornell campus offers geographic challenges that might be held to allow special consideration for the peculiarities of student oriented religious organizations. Ezra Cornell’s farm was at Ithaca, but not in Ithaca. As it stood in the 1860′s when the University was founded, the farm that became much of the campus was on the hills above the town to the east. Of course, subsequent development produced a ‘college town’ business center off the south end of the campus, but the ravine there and the one to the north of the old campus provide a remarkably definite separation between the town and the campus.

Map views show rather clearly that much of the separation remains in place, despite the bridges. Historically there was an effort to provide a substantial center for student connected religious groups. Besides the campus chapel with weekly services, there is a religious center so large as to stand out as its own quadrangle in campus maps, “Annabelle Taylor Hall”, if I remember correctly, at the southwest corner of the campus on the street that goes from the college town to the Student Union, but north of the (southern) Gorge.

If Alpha Chi was working out of that university center, somebody missed the boat when the terms of their use of the facility were being sorted out.

I can understand that Cornell University, in particular, might choose to be a bit lax about supervising these campus connected religious organizations in order to get them to offer services to the students on campus, but there is a serious need to do that very carefully.

Since when does an adviser/non-student-leadership-person have the power to remove student leadership from a student organization? It would be one thing if the organization had formally elected to remove Mr. Donohoe, but that does not appear to be what happened.

One might compare the situation to the constraints under which an actual fraternity operates. While the fraternity does have to operate within university policy guidelines, local housing ordinances, and the rules of its national organization, and to listen to the advice of its adviser and the Alumni Chapter, the actual operating decisions are the responsibility of the current student members, and they elect their leadership. Usually there are provisions for the removal of these officers and chapter self-governance, but they involve formal action by the relevant governing boards.

These due process considerations would seem to have been folded down into a very small portfolio that Mr. Herman carried around inside his head.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

accusing me of moral equivalences that I did not make

Have you or have you not tried to ask myself, Pyria Lynn (sp?) and others, what we would do if (fill in the blank) such as the example I gave above?

Those most certainly are more equivalencies attempting to be drawn for the sole purpose of you trying to make a point in your favor.

When that’s pointed out, you have avoided responding directly to how that it is true, and instead attempt to then end the conversation by claiming you’ve attemted to make no such comparisons by attempts of intimidation via moderation and deletion of posts.

As for this

If you persist in falsely stating what I believe, accusing me of moral equivalences that I did not make, or generally assigning to me beliefs I do not have, I’ll have no choice but to remove your comments.

The intent has not been to falsely state what you believe, but to relate in my opinion what your arguments imply.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

However, in any event, you won’t have to concern yourself with ME any further as BTB will be removed from my RSS feeds.

Stefano A
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Or you can simply ban me. I no longer care.

Lindoro
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Tim, I am repeating what the editors of this site have reported and making presumptions based on common sense.

1. This site reported of the conflict
2. This site reported the policy
3. This site took a position in the conflict
4. It is a reasonable expectation that Alpha Chi knew of the policy and how it conflicted with theirs.
5. The experience of the BSA is still fresh on everyone’s mind. They chose to follow a path and then tried to reverse that path by bringing religion into the equation and they were not allowed to do so. No it is not at the scale of the BSA but the comparison is valid.

What do I need to be corrected on? I have used the information I received.

I have made it clear that it is my opinion that as soon as Chi Alpha received and accepted money from the university they are bound by their rules. I have not been told that my assertions are wrong and how.

If there is information that I have ignored, please correct me and i will be very happy to reassess my position, but so far I have not seen anything that will lead me to believe that Chi Alpha’s religious rights were violated when they were bound by accepting money from an organization with conflicting tenants.

GaySolomon
May 7th, 2009 | LINK

While I have great respect for the work of BTB and its authors, I think many readers will agree that this site is sometimes an advocate for “christian privilege”. I suspect this advocacy is largely unconscious.

For those interested in christian privilege, here is a quick summary:

http://atheism.about.com/od/christianismnationalism/p/ChristianPriv.htm

Priya Lynn
May 7th, 2009 | LINK

I agree GaySolomon and I certainly understand where StefanoA is coming from and am sorry to see him go.

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