Georgetown Jesuits give Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, other Protestant ministries, the boot...

This just arrived in my E-mail inbox from my friend, Kevin Offner:

I'm still a bit stunned as I write this. Georgetown University has just kicked off InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (and four other evangelical para-church groups) from its campus. No reason has been given other than what you see in this letter. Please pray for us as we seek to respond, that we would have wisdom and respond out of love, not fear.

Warmly in Christ,

Kevin Offner, InterVarsity Grad Staff at Washington, DC Universities

Looking into the matter, I found that Georgetown's campus newspaper, The Hoya, ran an article today (August 25, 2006), announcing the decision. The article titled "Campus Ministry Removes Affiliates exposed the tight-lipped, damage-control mindset characterizing Georgetown's administrators who implemented the decision:

"The manner in which they pursued this was that they weren't going to allow any other voices other than their own," (Chi Aplha Christian Fellowship co-leader) Jay Lim said. "It's not just what they did, it's the manner in which they pursued [it]."

The new policy barring ministry affiliates was announced during a brief meeting that administrators held with the groups last Thursday. According to several affiliate members who attended the meeting, administrators announced the exclusion of the groups without permitting any discussion or feedback.

Hannah Coyne (COL '07), another Chi Alpha co-leader, called the move "incredibly unprofessional and incredibly disrespectful to the students at Georgetown."

...Officials in the offices of Fr. Philip Boroughs, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry, and Fr. Timothy Godfrey, S.J., director of campus ministry, referred questions to the Office of Communications. Phone calls yesterday afternoon to Rev. Wheeler, who wrote the letter informing the groups of the new policies, were not returned.

Here is a PDF copy of the letter announcing the decision. Printed on Georgetown letterhead and signed by Rev. Constance C. Wheeler, Director of Campus Ministry, it reads...

as follows:

August 14, 2006

Dear Affiliated Ministries:

Blessings and may God's peace be upon you! We pray your summers have been restorative and affirming in life and ministry. The new academic year is already upon us, and we are thanking God for another year.

As we shared in conversation at the close of the Spring semester, we spent the 2005-2006 academic year evaluating many areas of Protestant Ministry's mission and outreach at Georgetown University, including that of our Affiliated Ministries. After much laboring in prayers and conversations with ministerial leaders, Protestant Ministry has decided to move in another direction for the 2006-2007 academic year.

As a result of our new direction for the upcoming academic year, we have decided to not renew any covenant agreements with any of the Affiliated Ministries. This will become effective immediately. As any previous covenant agreements ended with the 2005-2006 academic year, your ministries will not longer be allowed to hold any activity or presence (i.e. bible (sic) studies, retreats with Georgetown students, Mid-week (sic) worship services, fellowship events, move-in assistance, SAC Fair, etc.) on campus. As well, there will be no Affiliated Ministry presence or participation at our annual Campus Ministry Open House held at the end of August.

Additionally, all websites linking your ministries to a presence at Georgetown University will need to be modified to reflect the terminated relationship. Your ministries are not to publicize in any literature, media, advertisement, etc. that Georgetown University is or will be an active ministry site for your ministry/church/denomination.

While we realize this comes as a great disappointment, please know we are moving forward with this decision only after much dialogue with the Lord. We have enjoyed working with your ministries in various capacities over the years and will always keep your ministry in our prayers.

Sincerely,

Rev. Constance C. Wheeler
Protestant Chaplain, Team Leader

cc: Rev. Timothy S. Godfrey, S.J.
Rev. Patrick D. Rogers, S.J.

How'd you like that bit about "much dialog with the Lord?" Yikes.

I went to Georgetown's web site to find out a little more about the men receiving carbon copies of these letters. Godfrey is Director of Campus Ministries and was a recent hire, coming to Georgetown in July of 2004. At the time, Georgetown's publication, Blue & Gray, introduced Godfrey:

Sharing a variety of traditions and cultures with the university community is one of Godfrey's goals at Georgetown.

"There is so much wisdom in communities that transcend your own background. You learn to see life and see and experience God in a different way," says Godfrey... Godfrey's openness to experience and understand other cultures is essential to his task of organizing Georgetown's faith community, which serves Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Bah', Hindu, Sikh and other traditions.

"Campus Ministry is more than just offering religious services on Sunday," he says. "It's looking at what is it that really helps people deepen their faith and tradition." Jewish Shabbat dinners, for example, so students and others can get to know one another in a more casual setting.... While diversity often has an undertone of political correctness, Godfrey's motivation appears serenely sincere.

On another page from GU's web site titled "Culture of Faith," taken from the March 15, 2005, issue of Georgetown University's glossy Georgetown Magazine, Godfrey's immediate superior, GU's Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Phillip L. Boroughs, S.J., is introduced:

His position also includes supervising the Office of Campus Ministry, and the Department of Pastoral Care at the hospital, sharing Ignatian spirituality and helping students find their faith in ways that respect their diversity. Interreligious dialogue, social justice, the role of women and the role of laity in the church are also part of his work.

Father Boroughs... is working to expand interreligious dialogue and, through the oversight of the campus ministry program, is providing daily spiritual guidance to students in ways that respect their diversity."

...The Office of Campus Ministry offers regular services for students of numerous faiths. Campus ministry's calendar for the month of November reveals how cohesive and inclusive Boroughs and Godfrey want religious and social justice opportunities to be:

The first three Tuesdays of the month, for example, a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is scheduled. There's a bone marrow drive on another day, and Roman Catholic as well as Orthodox Christian retreats (campus ministry also offers Jewish, Muslim and Protestant retreats other times, just not in November). There's also a Memorial Mass for the Jesuit and lay martyrs of El Salvador and a Mass in German for the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, a lecture on human rights and the Americas, and an interfaith Thanksgiving service, to name a few....

"At Georgetown, we are creating an environment (of) respect for all religious traditions..." "Father Boroughs has revitalized Campus Ministry in his work for Mission and Ministry here on campus," says Gregory G. Mullaney... "What is truly unique about [him] is how he encourages and initiates dialogue among faiths, too often this is overlooked and causes much division among groups."

Boroughs says he loves his work and the ...opportunity to reach out to people of other faiths, including the Muslim and Jewish communities. And he is particularly appreciative that the pastoral efforts to promote interreligious understanding at Georgetown have academic parallels in the Center for Jewish Civilization, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding...

"I come from a culture which is very respectful of diversity... I'm very excited by the interreligious dimensions of Georgetown itself... Religious diversity is crucial, he says, to bringing one closer to one's own faith.

"The more I understand another tradition better, the more I come to understand my own, because I have these points of comparison and engagement," he says. "I think one of the aspects of interreligious dialogue is it helps you know yourself better."

Honestly, I don't get it. Is evangelical Protestantism the only "faith community" Boroughs and Godfrey don't respect? Is it the only "tradition" that doesn't present these Jesuits or their students with any helpful "points of comparison and engagement?"

What happened to their "environment of respect for all religious traditions?"

According to their intolerant, monolithic, Neanderthal, anti-dialog, dogmatic, exclusive, narrow-minded, tight, controlling, and fundamentalist memo and policy change, members of McLean Presbyterian Church (PCA), Capitol Hill Baptist Church, or any of C. J. Mahaney's Sovereign Grace churches; but also students who are a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other campus Protestant religious groups; are prohibited from inviting students from GU to come along on their fall retreats! Think about it, folks.

Since GU is not a state university, I have no legal objection to this new exertion of control they've decided to roll out over their students and campus. But I do object to the hypocrisy of publicly promoting their purported affirmation and inclusion of faith communities, mentioning Judaism and Islam specifically, while quietly and at the last moment banning evangelical Christianity. Those watching this issue should take a long hard look at the soul-destructive doctrines, ideologies, and practices that have in the past and will continue to find a secure home in GU's classrooms and dorms and chapels--starting with the Society of Jesus itself.

Exhibit 1: The Exorcist was filmed on Georgetown University's campus. Exhibit 2: President Clinton is a Georgetown University alumnus. Exhibit 3: In March 2004 Georgetown University hosted a performance of Vagina Monologues

Reminds me of the Council of Trent--not my favorite moment in the history of Roman Catholicism. Praise God IVCF and the others are a threat to all those good-old-boy SJs.

Comments

It's actually a compliment, ISTM. Clearly those organizations were too effective or at least threatening to the GU honchos for them to feel comfy with 'em around.

For pity's sake, it's an RC/JESUIT college! I'm astounded those Protestant groups were able to hang on as long as they did.

Christianity doesn't "respect" false, God-hating religions, so no wonder the Protestant groups were given the old heave-ho, as the false religions don't respect Christianity, either.

Frankly, Protestants probably ought not attend GU in the first place.

Sounds like a matter for the alumni associations and possibly a referral to FIRE--David Horowitz's group which looks into matters of discrimination against the expression of "minority" religious or political opinion on campus.

It is also probably an attempt by the existing Protestant ministry to be the only "Protestant" voice on the Campus. Perhaps the affiliates are more effective--such groups always were when I was a student.

Better get in touch with the folks at UNC Chapel Hill for some pointers about fighting back.

University Administrators never seem to learn. The surest way for all of the students to find out about these evangelical groups is for them to become "forbidden".

Tell Kevin to "hang in there", and to keep you posted about further developments.

"While we realize this comes as a great disappointment, please know we are moving forward with this decision only after much dialogue with the Lord."

I wonder what Lord they were having a dialogue with.

Down with parachurch ministries! ;)

Send all those jilted Protestant students up here to Fordham University, an independent Jesuit university that truly does welcome diversity. Even the Theology Dept., where I (a member of the PCA) am a grad student, has a truly ecumenical faculty. Besides, who would want to live in the sleepy swampland that is our nation's ill-advised capital when you could live in the de facto capital city of the world, New York? Pack your bags, say I!

I find it curious that you did not research the author of the letter. Why assume that the two priests receiving copies of the letter were responsible for its contents? Below is the bio (from the Georgetown site) of the woman who actually wrote the letter:

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