Wednesday, August 16, 2006

God & Politics: Campus Ministry

Felix over at Colossus of Rhodey is opining about problems the University of Wisconsin has with religious groups. After being told by the 7th Circuit court that the University could not legally interfere with religious groups selecting their own leadership, the University began de-recognizing religious student groups on specious grounds. Because when I was treasurer of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 3 years, we were preaching Deuteronomy 13:6-11 once a semester. I mean if the university hadn't wanted us to stone heretics, they shouldn't have covered the damn campus in those perfectly weighted red bricks. Hey, I knew I kept one of those red bricks for something.

But of course, I kid. We only crucified one guy on the Beach and that was because he was kinda nuts and he asked us to. Besides he was a part time student so he barely counts.

In truth the University barely tolerated us. We stayed an official student group because it let us use university facilities (like large meeting rooms on Friday nights) and use university media to publicize our events. Those two things were worth the hoops they made us jump through. But the university didn't support us to any meaningful degree.

My main job as treasurer was to submit a budget to the university in order to get funding. The first year I did this, I submitted something that approached our actual operating budget. We had two full time staff members and one part time staffer, so you can imagine it was in the high five figures. We didn't get a dime. The next two years we got enough money to defray some of our photocopying costs. That's it. And at 200+ members we were probably the largest student group on campus.

We also had to jump through hoops in order to use our rights to free expression. Anything put up on a campus billboard has to be pre-approved by the campus grand poobah. Otherwise it counts as vandalism.

But the joke was on the University. It would have been nice to get thousands of dollars (like some small clubs did), but in actuality we did just fine. We had access to university facilities and our staff was funded adequately through various regional churches. If they had kicked us out, we would have just met in a church parking lot across the street from campus.

You see groups like IVCF don't succeed because the University likes us. We succeed because we will meet the spiritual needs of students whether the Universities like it or not.

UPDATE: One of the key words they are throwing at the Christian groups is "subversive." Didn't Nero say that about us? Christians, subverting the establishment since 33AD.

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