The Harvard College Faith and Action group is on “administrative probation” for a year after the group pressured a leader of the group to resign because of a same-sex relationship.
“After a thorough review and finding that HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in [the Office of Student Life’s] Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, OSL has placed HCFA on a one year administrative probation,” said Harvard College spokesman Aaron M. Goldman.
HCFA co-presidents Scott Ely and Molly L. Richmond said the group was placed on probation because of their “standards for leaders.”
“We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship,” the co-presidents wrote in an email Wednesday. “Broadly speaking, the student in this case was removed because of an irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards.”
Richmond also told The Boston Globe: “To be clear, we are an autonomous student group, and we do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”
In September, HCFA leadership reportedly asked for the resignation of a female Bible course leader in the group after they found she was dating another female student, according to The Harvard Crimson.
The Harvard College Student Handbook says that recognized student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation.”
If the group tries to re-register with the university in 2019, the Office of Student Life “will require materials demonstrating that they are in compliance with the University’s nondiscrimination” policies.
In an email to students she was mentoring in the organization, the former student leader said the same-sex relationship had been “an incredible support.”
She was dating another member of HCFA when a Christian Union-employed faculty member discovered the relationship.
“In light of [my same-sex relationship], I have been asked to step down from my leadership position as a ABCL,” the woman wrote in an email obtained by the Crimson. “I cannot express how much this saddens me.”
The co-presidents, however, said the woman was removed from the group because of a “theological disagreement” on the group’s character standards.
The organization’s character standards do not specifically address homosexuality. The document does give directives on “sexual purity” and advice on relationships.
“Use wisdom in your dating life,” the document reads. “Be aware not only of the importance of honoring God in your romantic relationships, but to set a good example and model for other believers who will look to you for implicit guidance as a leader.”
Publication date: February 27, 2018
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.