The University of Sydney’s student union (USU) has threatened to deregister the Christian Union because it requires members to profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
USU’s board claims that asking members to make such a commitment amounts to discrimination.
The Evangelical Union (EU), which has been operating at the university since the 1930s, has been told to change the requirement by the end of March or be barred.
USU Vice President Olivia Ronan said the body is committed to “accessibility and inclusion” and claimed that limiting membership to Christians is “no less exclusionary than requiring candidates to be of a particular sexuality or gender identity”.
Responding to the USU George Bishop, President of the Evangelical Union, told the university’s student newspaper the policy is not designed to exclude anyone.
He said: “The requirement is basically that to have the voting rights and be the leader of the Christian society, they need to be able to declare that Jesus is Lord.
“We are not trying to shut up shop or close borders. We provide subsidies for non-Christians to come to the events.”
Proclaim the Gospel
Bishop added: “Ultimately, what I care about is that the EU continues to exist and proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ on campus.”
The move by the USU was criticised by PhD student and former EU member Andrew Judd, who pointed out that “inclusion is not the issue”.
He said: “It’s not unlawful discrimination to make being on board with what the association is about a requirement for leadership in that club: it’s what it means to freely associate with like-minded people.”
“By deciding that beliefs are never relevant to any association you’re saying faith groups can’t form associations”, he added.