By Erin Delany ‘20
Intervarsity National announced a policy change this month that stipulates the involuntary termination of employees who disagree with the Human Sexuality doctrine of the organization. The Evangelical Christian fellowship organization, which has chapters on over 700 college campuses including the Claremont Colleges, recently published a paper articulating the organization’s views regarding human sexuality. The paper is Intervarsity’s first formal document detailing their theology regarding human sexuality, outlining everything from adultery to divorce. Notably, however, the paper emphasizes the common conservative Christian belief that relationships that are not straight and cisgender are sinful.
The policy change states that any Intervarsity staff member who disagrees with the beliefs outlined in Intervarsity Human Sexuality paper must come forward by November 11, when they will be given their 2 weeks’ notice and subsequently terminated. Intervarsity has stated that it will not seek out staffers who do not agree with the theology of the paper, relying instead on the integrity of their employees to turn themselves in if they disagree.
The Claremont Intervarsity community has reacted strongly against the policy change. Shortly after Intervarsity National released their statement, Pomona Pitzer Christian Fellowship decided to disaffiliate from Intervarsity and students from 3CIV, the Intervarsity chapter that consists of students from Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps, created an online petition in protest.
This petition, which “[rebukes] the notion that Intervarsity can be a welcoming space for Queer individuals with the current staffing policy,” has garnered over 400 signatures from members of Intervarsity chapters across the nation.
The petition included a list of demands, namely that Intervarsity National reverse its involuntary termination policy and that Intervarsity respect and accept individuals of LGBTQIA+ identities, placing them “at the forefront of conversations to develop [...] resources on human sexuality.”
Rachel Geller (SCR ‘18), one of the creators of the petition, expressed disappointment in the recent actions of Intervarsity.
The Church and Christians and Intervar sity have done things that have been really harmful to the Queer community, and have not acted lovingly at all towards the Queer community and that’s not ok. It absolutely goes against my faith and against the God I believe in,” Rachel said.
In light of the policy changes, 3CIV has been working harder to create a Queer-friendly space in their club.
Ricky Pan (HM 2018), a 3CIV small group leader, stated that “this summer, as we were planning for the semester, we aimed to create multiple opportunities for students to think about the intersection of Queer identity and the Christian faith. Two events we planned, “Beyond Tolerance,” a movie screening to encourage conversation in our community, and an ally training with the Queer Resource Center, are happening this month.”
While 3CIV has not voted to disaffiliate from Intervarsity National, Ricky and Rachel both emphasized that the club is trying to do better in relating to the Queer community.
“The IV staff and students here are really seeking to understand and to change and to get better so we can better love the people on this campus,” Rachel said. “We are seeking to repent for the ways that our community has hurt the Queer community and to do better.”
Both members of the club also emphasized that students who choose to remain in 3CIV may not be in agreement with the actions of Intervarsity National.
“There is a lot of diversity in our Christian fellowships here both in faith backgrounds and theological beliefs, so someone choosing to stay in an Intervarsity fellowship doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with the policy or with Intervarsity’s theology,” Rachel explained.
Above all, members of 3CIV asked for redemption and understanding as they navigate Intervarsity National’s policy change.
“I’d like the Claremont community to know that we are deeply sorry for any pain we have directly or indirectly caused and ask for forgiveness,” Ricky stated. “We continue to work to make 3CIV a place where both straight and LGBTQ+ people can grow in faith, and we’re open to ideas for how to do this.”