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Scottish NUS to vote on banning Bible course on relationships on campuses

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Issued on behalf of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship

Press Release

For Immediate Release

25 May 2007

SCOTTISH NUS TO VOTE ON BANNING BIBLE COURSE ON RELATIONSHIPS ON CAMPUSES

MEMBERS of the Scottish National Union of Students are attempting to ban a Christian course on relationships from taking place on university and college campuses.

At tomorrow's (26 May) Annual Meeting of the Scottish NUS in Glasgow, a Private Members Motion calls on delegates to pass a resolution banning the Pure Course on the basis that it is homophobic.

The course, run by Christian Unions, is based on the orthodox Christian teachings concerning marriage, and teaches the importance of fidelity in relationships.  It has been run on campuses throughout Scotland over the past 18 months.  The Pure course was suspended from being taught on campus by Edinburgh University at the end of last year following claims by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans-gendered Society that it was discriminatory and breached Equal Opportunities Policies.  However, the University, after examining the course, allowed the CU to continue to teach it on campus, rejecting the claims.

The NUS motion to be debated claims: "The pure course is a homophobic course that denounces homosexuality as 'sexually immoral', supports the suppression and 'healing' of homosexuality, and advises students with 'same sex impulses' to consult homophobic literature to attempt to cure them of their homosexual tendencies."

However, Anna Shilliday, a Christian who supports the right of Christian students to meet and discuss the Bible's teaching on relationships, in the same way she defends the rights of all students including gay groups to hold seminars based on their beliefs, will speak against the motion on two grounds.

Miss Shilliday will tell delegates that approving such an amendment will make a "laughing stock" of the way NUS Conference resolutions are made, and that the claims of the motion are groundless.

In her speech she will say: "The Motion calls for a ban on the Pure course, but there has been no official opportunity for delegates to hear proper representation from UCCF, or the course writers, or presenters.  This makes a mockery of quality debate, and is an insult to those of us being asked to vote on it.  It invalidates any serious attempt we may wish for Conference decisions to be taken seriously by the outside world.

"Delegates are being asked to ban something they have never seen, read or in some cases, ever heard of. This is nonsense.  As undergraduates or post graduates, we are taught, and pride ourselves, in research, examining the evidence, reflecting and then forming sound judgements and opinions based on careful analysis.  Where is the evidence from both sides to this motion?

"Conference, voting on this motion without each of us having at least read the materials encourages us to be as prejudicial and intolerant of the Pure course as this motion claims the Pure course is of our friends and fellow colleagues who are homosexuals."

Miss Shilliday will tell fellow students that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender societies in Aberdeen and Glasgow have very good relationships with the Christian Unions and the Pure course has been run in both these universities, without problems, despite holding disagreements."

Kay Cathcart, UCCF staff worker for Edinburgh CUs, said: "The purpose of the Pure course is to help Christian Union members develop a biblical perspective on their relationships. It is about living out relationships in the light of God’s love, forgiveness and design. God values us all as people made in his image and it is in response to our relationship with him that Christians choose not to satisfy their sexual desires outside of marriage, whether in a heterosexual or homosexual context. Refraining from acting on some of our sexual desires is a good and normal part of human experience. None of this promotes homophobia.

"The Pure course is not a ‘healing’ course for homosexuality. If someone on the course recognised strong feelings of same-sex attraction and requested guidance, we would encourage them to contact the True Freedom Trust, which would empathise and help them to work out what they actually want to do.

Miss Shilliday will advise conference that the allegations of homophobia could easily have been refuted if UCCF/Pure course leaders had been allowed representation.

ENDS.

For further information:
Kay Cathcart 07954 162 488 (UCCF workers); Paul Eddy (PR) 01202 522177, 08932 019 430.


Editor's Notes:-

The wording of the Anti-Pure Course motion is as follows:-

The Motion:
Conference believes:
1.That over the past year the UCCF has attempted to run a course called PURE
at colleges and universities in Scotland through their Christian unions.
2. The pure course is a homophobic course that denounces homosexuality as
'sexually immoral', supports the suppression and 'healing' of
homosexuality, and advises students with 'same sex impulses' to consult
homophobic literature to attempt to cure them of their homosexual
tendencies.
Conferences further believe:
1. That this sort of intolerance and prejudice is unacceptable regardless of
where it comes from.
2. That pure and other similar courses promote the continued homophobia e
see in society and affect vulnerable LGBT students.
3. That homophobia on our campuses must be stopped
4. That our pure prejudice campaign has helped prevent the pure course from
running on our campuses so far.
5. That it is vital LGBT Officers and societies are kept informed about the
pure course and similar courses
6. That it is important for our campaign to continue to support LGBT
students with faith in organised religion
7. That neither religion nor faith should be used as a shield to deflect
criticism of homophobia.
Conference resolves:
1. To condemn the pure course and other similar homophobic courses
2. To continue the pure prejudice campaign to keep the pure course out of
Scotland
3. To help LGBT officers and societies campaign against these courses on our
college and university campuses
4. To continue to support LGBT students of religious and work with religious
organisations to promote tolerance, understanding and better working
relationships.

UCCF's brief response at the request of Anna Shilliday:-

UCCF statement for NUS Scotland conference regarding the Pure course.  (May 2007)

We find common ground with the desire expressed in this motion to work against hate and intolerance.

The purpose of the Pure course is to help Christian Union members develop a biblical perspective on their relationships. It is about living out relationships in the light of God’s love, forgiveness and design. God values us all as people made in his image and it is in response to our relationship with him that Christians choose not to satisfy their sexual desires outside of marriage, whether in a heterosexual or homosexual context. Refraining from acting on some of our sexual desires is a good and normal part of human experience. None of this promotes homophobia.

The Pure course is not a ‘healing’ course for homosexuality. If someone on the course recognised strong feelings of same-sex attraction and requested guidance, we would encourage them to contact the True Freedom Trust, which would empathise and help them to work out what they actually want to do

To say that the Pure course does not agree with LGBT views on homosexuality is true. To suggest that anything in the Pure Course constitutes hate speech or promotes hatred towards homosexuality is untrue and irresponsible. The motion as it stands could lead to innocent people being unjustifiably accused of homophobia and prejudice. This is a very serious and avoidable outcome.  We do not serve each other well by banning each other’s views, or stereotyping each other’s responses, particularly in matters of such fundamental personal and social importance..

The motion resolves to support LGBT students with religious faith, yet at the same time the motion discriminates against those LGBT students who wish to explore the historic, orthodox Christian views expressed in Pure. The only consistent way to truly respect LGBT students who choose not to live a gay or lesbian lifestyle because of their faith, is to allow the Pure course even while disagreeing with its contents.

In conclusion we submit that the motion does not accurately represent the Pure course’s aims or values. Nor is it responsible in seeking to ban Pure, since the repercussions of such a major removal of basic freedom will be significantly harmful to the student body.

We wholeheartedly support the desire to speak well of each other, even when we disagree and to that end would appreciate dialogue that allows concerns to be expressed and understood. UCCF would be positive about promoting NUS initiatives that encouraged dialogue with CUs. In addition we are confident that CU’s would welcome any NUS representatives who wished to experience the course for themselves.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams
LCF Public Policy Officer
0771 2591164

http://www.lawcf.org
http://www.ccfon.org


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