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Harvard puts Christian club on probation for demoting lesbian Bible study leader

(Wikimedia Commons/Joseph Williams)The Widener Library in Harvard University is featured in this image

Harvard University has reportedly put a Christian student group on a year-long probation after it asked a lesbian member to step down from her role as a Bible study leader.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the Office of Student Life had placed the religious group Harvard College Faith and Action (HCFA) on "administrative probation" for a year after the organization asked the unnamed member to resign from her position in September following her decision to date a woman.

"HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in the Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide," school spokesman Aaron M. Goldman said in a statement.

Goldman further stated that Harvard would require updated materials indicating that HCFA is in compliance with the university's nondiscrimination policy if the Christian group decides to re-apply for recognition.

HCFA co-presidents Scott Ely and Molly Richmond denied that the group had discriminated against the lesbian member and insisted that their organization has clear character standards, including "sexual purity" in abstinence before marriage.

"We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship. The student in this case was removed because of an irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards," Ely and Richmond told The Harvard Crimson.

The HCFA leaders further noted that they believe that the groups standards on issues such as extramarital "sexual activity" are applied equally to student leaders of "all sexual orientations."

According to Fox News, the probation notice came after the group hosted a controversial talk by Jackie Hill Perry, a Christian spoken word artist who was "saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin."

Although HCFA stated on Facebook that the event was "not intended in any way to promote homophobia, conversion therapy, or hatefulness in any form," LGBT student activists had reportedly complained about the event as "hate speech" on campus.

HCFA will no longer receive financial support from the Undergraduate Council's Finance Committee until the probation is lifted, according to sophomore Finance Committee Chairman Henry S. Atkins. The UC Finance Committee has been handing out an average of $350 a year to the 200-member Christian group to fund events.

Atkins had reportedly proposed that HCFA be cut off from all UC funds until the group shows contrition, but the proposal lost by a 5–3 vote of the committee after members questioned whether they had the authority to cut off all UC funding.

University spokeswoman Rachel Dane stated that HCFA would also have to sever its ties with its parent group, Christian Union, by the end of its probationary period before the school will recognize the group as a student organization again.

Christian Union, which hires HCFA staff, is a national organization that provides funds and leadership support to Ivy League Christian student groups.

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