InterVarsity Students at UW-Superior Win Re-recognition
April 13, 2007

News Release
For Immediate Release

(Madison, WI)—Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, today announced that InterVarsity and the University of Wisconsin (UW) have reached an agreement that settles a lawsuit and fully restores recognition to InterVarsity’s student chapter at the UW-Superior (UW-S). The agreement also removes the threat of derecognition that has been facing InterVarsity chapters at the UW-Madison and other University of Wisconsin campuses.

“This is a positive step towards the goal we seek, which is equal treatment of all student organizations, including those that are religious,” said Hill. “We hope that this agreement begins a new, cooperative relationship between the University of Wisconsin and all religious student groups.”

The university notified the UW-S chapter that it was being stripped of official recognition in February 2006. The chapter has been active on the UW-S campus for more than four decades. UW-S officials said that the chapter’s requirement that its leaders affirm InterVarsity’s Basis of Faith violated the university’s non-discrimination policy. InterVarsity maintained that a student religious organization should be able to require reasonable religious standards for its student leaders. To resolve the dispute, InterVarsity filed suit in Federal Court in October, 2006.

The settlement provides for the InterVarsity chapter at UW-S to regain all the benefits of recognized status. Those benefits include the rights to:

* use the university’s name in its title
* the use of the university’s facilities
* exercise campus advertising privileges
* use the university’s administrative services
* apply for student segregated funds

“We are very happy that we can meet freely on campus once again, like all the other student organizations,” said UW-S chapter president Nancy Hudack. “We don’t have to worry about our future as a student organization.” The chapter was allowed to continue weekly meetings in the UW-S Rothwell Student Center even though it had been derecognized.

The agreement includes a precisely worded constitution that will be used by the UW-Superior chapter, as well as chapters on the Madison campus and on other Wisconsin campuses that have been questioned on the discrimination issue by school officials. The constitution may serve as a model for other Christian groups who are facing similar situations on UW campuses and other college campuses, since the constitution was negotiated with the UW and approved by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz.

The campus has been abuzz about the massacre of over thirty students some 2 1/2 hours from us at Virginia Tech. In light of the grave reports join me in offering this prayer:

God of Compassion,
you watch our ways,
and weave out of terrible happenings
wonders of goodness and grace.

Surround those who have been shaken by tragedy
with a sense of your present love,
and hold them in faith.

Though they are lost in grief,
may they find you and be comforted;
through Jesus Christ who was dead, but lives
and rules this world with you. Amen.

(Source: Book of Common Worship, 1993).

I was reading F. F. Bruce’s account of his life, In Retrospect. Toward the end of the book, Bruce reflects on the question that I am sure many of us have heard before: which two books, apart from the Bible, would you like to take with you to a desert island? Bruce’s response was insightful and I find myself to be in full agreement with it. He replied that he should like to take Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and The Collected Hymns of John and Charles Wesley.

To me, the most powerful expression of the Christian faith in post-Reformation history could that movement known as calvinistic methodism. There is nothing more compelling nor more exciting to me than that mingling of the Doctrines of Grace and a heart strangely warmed by God’s grace and longing for growth in holiness.

Friday, March 9, 2007 2:09 p.m. EST

Importing Diversity
The Harvard Crimson reports on a telling trend among selective universities:

While Harvard leads the nation in black student yield numbers [the fraction of accepted applicants who enroll], a high proportion of those enrollees may be recent black immigrants, not African Americans, a new study found.

The study’s goal was to examine reasons behind the high level of diversity in heritage and socioeconomic levels within black student populations at 28 American universities, said Camille Z. Charles, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. The report was published in last month’s American Journal of Education (AJE).

According to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen conducted in 1999, immigrants account for 26.7 percent of black students at the universities used in the AJE study. At Ivy League schools, the statistic reached 40.6 percent.

Because first- and second-generation immigrants only accounted for 13 percent of all 18- and 19-year-old black students, according to the Current Population Survey conducted the same year, the numbers show that recent black immigrants are represented in these universities at higher proportions than in the general population, the study says.

The terminology here is awfully confused. For one thing, “second-generation immigrants” would seem to mean not immigrants at all, but native Americans whose parents are immigrants.

For another, as we’ve noted before, the exclusion of immigrants from Africa (and their children) from the category “African-American” shows how senseless is the politically correct employment of that term. You wouldn’t say, “His parents are immigrants from Ireland, so he’s not Irish-American.”

What is clear here, though, is that, at least as measured by enrollment in elite universities, black immigrants and their children are succeeding in America far more, on average, than blacks whose families have been in the U.S. for generations–i.e., the descendants of slaves. This is a strong argument against the proposition that black underachievement in America is primarily the result of present-day racism.

How to explain the disparity? The Crimson article offers this:

Charles said the gap had less to do with value systems of immigrants as a group, and more with who immigrants tend to be.

“In practical terms, immigrants, no matter what color they are, are a highly selective group of people,” she said.

“At some level, there will always be an immigrant-native difference because you only get the most motivated, best prepared, cream-of-the-crop set of immigrants,” since their families have had to leave their native countries and start anew in the United States, she said.

This last comment points to an uncomfortable truth: Every ethnic group in America consists almost entirely of a “cream-of-the-crop set of immigrants” and their descendants–except blacks, whose ancestors were mostly brought to the U.S. by force, and American Indians, who were already here when America was discovered. It may be that disparities between these two ethnic groups and the rest of the population amount to an intergenerational version of the “immigrant-native difference” Prof. Charles finds unremarkable among contemporary populations.

When Jesse Jackson and other black “leaders” urged, some two decades ago, that the term African-American supplant black, their aim appears to have been to inspire the same sort of ethnic pride that other hyphenated Americans feel. But a change in nomenclature cannot undo the tragic facts of history.

What is Sin?

February 18, 2007 — Leave a comment

“We don’t believe homosexuality is a sin,” countered Meghan Bean-Smith, 24, a lesbian studying to be a minister in the United Church of Christ. “One of the markings of a sin is that it harms other people. Two people loving each other aren’t hurting people.”

–From San Francisco Chronicle Story


Q. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 14

The quote at the top of the page is pulled from a newspaper story. I chose the quote not because of the matter being discussed, namely, homosexuality. This quote illustrates a very problematic definition of sin. Granted, the interviewer did not state that “harm [to] others” is the only and exclusive definition of sin. She did, however, do a fair job at implying this. Her logic flowing somewhat along the following lines:

“My sexual orientation causes no harm to others therefore it is not sinful.”

The question arises as to whether an act must cause harm in order to be sin. The Catechism suggests that a harm need not occur in order for an act to be sinful. Under this rubric then it is fair to say that simply because Woman A and Woman B are in love and in a committed same-sex relationship and both are happy does not, of necessity, determine that such a relationship is not sinful.