He went on to say: "Compassion moves you to action. Pity looks and says "how awful;" compassion weeps and says 'I'll help.' Pity looks on from afar; compassion rolls up sleeves and gets involved. Pity waits for a convenient time; compassion doesn't know the meaning of time. Pity is cheap and plentiful; compassion is rich and priceless, but it is costly."
Yesterday I came across an article (link at the bottom) about how due to CSU Executive Order 1068 and the Open Membership policy InterVarsity has been kicked off of every California State University campus because it has the audacity to stand on principle and require its student chapter leaders affirm InterVarsity's Doctrinal Basis.
Stories like this sadly are not new. Open Membership policies (or "all-comers" policies) have been wrecking havoc across the United States against belief-based student groups (political, religious, etcetera irrespective of religion or political ideology) the last few years with increasing frequency. For the past year I have been trying to fight this CSU Open Membership policy but have been able to make little headway. I have written many blog posts here on my website on this topic and contributed to many news stories on the topic to raise awareness. Perhaps now with InterVarsity we have reached a tipping point.
It is time to double-down with this fight and go on the offensive. I admire InterVarsity and their commitment to continue campus ministries, and to work all the more hard to reach these university students despite their inability to be a campus recognized group. They will not let this policy get in their way. But, I cannot standby and let this policy go unchallenged and unchecked. Something must be done as this policy cannot be allowed to continue to exist as-is, and I am going to do something about it.
I am hopeful that commonsense can prevail, and that a compromise can be reached such that the CSU can have their open membership, but belief-based student organizations (political, religious, etcetera) may be exempted so that the purpose, mission, and beliefs of their groups may be protected. The status of first-amendment rights for student organizations, the existence of many student organizations, and the existence of commonsense policy sits at the brink.
CSU Administrators have been unwilling to compromise on this misguided policy. It seems that the next best option would be legislative action from the State, such as what has been done in North Carolina, and pressure from California taxpayers, as this is a non-partisan issue that all can rally around. It is important for the CSU to remember that it is accountable to California voters and taxpayers. Another thought: Churches sponsor many InterVarsity staff, will they be willing to encourage their members to stand up for InterVarsity and other related groups affected by this policy?
The lessons of freedom and free speech are supposed to be pivotal elements of a college education and experience. Through exposure to different points of view students can better understand wheat they believe and why, or come to their own conclusions about what they want to believe and stand behind. College is supposed to be an educational experience where any and all viewpoints are welcome, not a place where only the party-line is allowed to be presented and certain groups ostracized and degraded accordingly. We cannot stand by and let students be taught that harmful policies such as this Open Membership policy are OK.
The scary thing is that InterVarsity was not the first group in the CSU hurt by this policy and kicked off campus, and if nothing changes they will not be the last. Please take some time to read up on this critical issue, and get involved somehow if you can.
Pastor Thompson closed with a sort of manifesto to action, detailing a few principles to live by. To list a few:
- Quit living life as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
- Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.
- Stop playing it safe and start taking risks.
- Don't let fear dictate your decisions.
- Quit holding out. Quit holding back.
Check out the clip to hear the sermon and the other manifesto to action points, it will be worthwhile. Open Membership may not be the issue that lights your fire like it does for me, but I hope there is something out there that does light your fire that you are working to be a part of the solution for, or can start working to be a part of the solution for.