THERE WERE NEVER IN THE WORLD TWO OPINIONS ALIKE

Evangelical Union Stares Down USU Ultimatum

Evangelical Union Stares Down USU Ultimatum

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Ought we allow a member of the Labor Party to run as President of the Liberal Club? Should we allow a man to run for the executive position in a women’s society?

Is it not the role of a society to uphold its constitutional values and commitments?

Yesterday the war against intolerance and discrimination was won. We stand as witnesses to the progressive tolerance as it has taken grip of its next victim: The Sydney University Evangelical Union (SUEU).

For the past five years, the University of Sydney Student Union (USU) have waged ideological war against the SUEU for its exclusive faith-based membership. This year, however, the SUEU was posed with an ultimatum by the USU to either:

1. Change its constitution (Articles 3.2 & 3.4) to allow non-Christian members to join as members of the SUEU.
2. Retain its constitution and risk being deregistered from the USU as an official club/society.

“The foundations…of the USU are accessibility and inclusion, and to limit the candidates for election to Club Executives to those who ascribe to a particular faith is no less exclusionary than requiring candidates to be of a particular sexuality or gender identity”. This seems morally right; after all, why should any society have the right to discriminate against individuals from becoming members, who do not meet their constitutional criteria?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘discrimination’ is defined as…

“[The] recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another”

Using this definition, we can establish that there are two resultant types of discrimination:
1. Right discrimination
2. Wrong discrimination

‘Right Discrimination’ is something ubiquitous and observable on a daily basis. For instance, thrill-rides at theme-parks generally discriminate against people under a certain height from riding, as well as people who have medical-problems. This is a form of discrimination is not only helpful, but necessary if we truly want to uphold the safety of all guests at the park.

‘Wrong Discrimination’ is the type of exclusive prejudice that is used to prevent individuals participating or engaging in certain activities or groups, purely based on their race, gender, sexuality, culture, or religious views. Oppression of individuals based on race is a clear example of this wrong discrimination, which is clearly morally wrong.

Now using these two types of discrimination, how ought we address the concerns faced by the SUEU.

The SUEU celebrates inclusivity in all its activities, and there are no limits on participation of the SUEU’s events.

In operation since 1930, the SUEU is the oldest longstanding society at the University of Sydney, and has been in operation even prior to the establishment of the USU. From free barbeques and festival activities, to public meetings and small groups, every one of the SUEU’s events is open to attendance and participation by all members of the University (whether holding an ACCESS card or not). The vast majority of attendees of the SUEU’s events are not ACCESS card members, a vast majority of the helpers and volunteers of the SUEU are not members, and many attendees are not even professing Christians. The SUEU celebrates inclusivity in all its activities, and there are no limits on participation of the SUEU’s events.

However, membership for the SUEU is exclusive under Article 3.2 and 3.4 to individuals professing faith in Jesus Christ, as well being in agreement with the commitments and goals of the SUEU. Members of the SUEU have only two privileges that are not given to the regular participant:
I) Ability to vote in elections
II) Ability to be nominated as an executive member

Now considering that the SUEU is, by definition, an Evangelical Christian society, is it not axiomatic that the executive of the SUEU always consists of Evangelical Christians? Is it not the role of a society to uphold its constitutional values and commitments? Is this not an explicit use of Right Discrimination, to further and maintain the objects of each society?

Ought we allow a member of the Labor Party to run as President of the Liberal Club? Should we allow a man to run for the executive position in a women’s society? These are questions with obvious answers, yet have been convoluted by political correctness to the point that they are now seen with ambiguity by many.

According to the USU, a society must be inclusive, to the extent that anyone should have the right to stand for the executive of any club or society, regardless of their affiliation and agreement with the respective constitutional beliefs. Is this really what tolerance is about?

Yesterday, the SUEU stood against the amendment ultimatum that it faced, with ‘against amendment’ winning the vote 71-1. If plans go ahead, the USU will deregister the SUEU from the clubs and societies on campus. Many have argued that this will lead to a similar circumstance for other clubs and societies that have firm grounding in their beliefs. Furthermore, albeit the consequences for the SUEU are arguably insignificant, the danger remains that this event has set the national and global precedent for the sort of people, society, and Universities we want to be. Not only will small student groups suffer from these changes, but it paints the next generation of Australia’s leaders in an intolerant, inconsistent, and vitriolic portrait.

Do we have the freedom to expression of religion? Do we still possess the human right to Freedom of Association with regard to our university societies?

Most of all; do we have the right to stand for what we truly believe in?

Masked with the façade of tolerance, maybe this war is a war of intolerance, with an agenda of oppressing people.

Maybe we are observing a social phenomenon that D.A. Carson wrote of in 2012.

“The Intolerance of Tolerance”

The well known symbol of the Sydney University Evangelical Union

The well known logo of the Sydney University Evangelical Union

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