My alma mater, Bowdoin College, made the front page of The New York Times this month, but not in a good way.

Nonetheless, institutional arrogance and disregard for human rights are always important topics to explore.

On June 9, under the headline “Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy,” the Times reported, “For 40 years, evangelicals at Bowdoin College have gathered periodically to study the Bible together, to pray and to worship. They are a tiny minority on the liberal arts college campus, but they have been a part of the school’s community, gathering in the chapel, the dining center, the dorms.”

However, that has changed: “After this summer, the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship will no longer be recognized by the college. Already, the college has disabled the electronic key cards of the group’s longtime volunteer advisers.”

The college says it hasn’t expelled the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, but the evangelical group’s members have refused to submit a charter that contains a provision the college has begun demanding for official recognition.

If you ask why this is happening, you haven’t been paying attention. There are some things the super-tolerant just can’t tolerate.


Remaining true to Christianity as it has been understood and practiced for 2,000 years is now a condemnable act – if you are a modern liberal and have Christians under your thumb.

I can’t say it any better than the Times did: “In a collision between religious freedom and anti-discrimination policies, the student group, and its advisers, have refused to agree to the college’s demand that any student, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, should be able to run for election as a leader of any group, including the Christian association.”

Got that? Bowdoin has decided, in the name of “equal rights,” to run roughshod over the rights of a student group founded in the name of a particular religion with particular beliefs about morality and sexual ethics.

Our Founders crafted the First Amendment to protect religious liberty and freedom of speech, while the entire Constitution is silent about sexual proclivities. But a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that a California law school could deny recognition to a student Christian group that restricted leadership posts to traditional believers gave license for schools to act.

As the Times notes, these conflicts are “driven by the universities’ desire to rid their campuses of bias, particularly against gay men and lesbians, but also, in the eyes of evangelicals, fueled by a discomfort in academia, with conservative forms of Christianity.”

You think?


Anyway, the two off-campus volunteers, Rob and Sim Gregory, who work for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the Bowdoin group’s national sponsor, are now on Bowdoin’s blacklist.

The college has defended its action, saying on its website ( June 19 that it merely had a problem with the recalcitrant Gregorys, who along with the students “wanted to dictate their leadership” (yes, the college actually said that).

Other student groups and volunteers have signed the agreement, the school said, so why wouldn’t the evangelicals?

Well, perhaps because they take their faith seriously?

Although the Gregorys and the club they advised apparently never barred same-sex-attracted students from their meetings, Bowdoin Christian Fellowship members are now unwelcome for not compromising their orthodox beliefs.

The college boasts that compliant student groups remain free to choose their own leaders. However, if you can’t have standards about who runs, as college policy now requires, an influx of “new members” could easily stuff a ballot box.


Then you suddenly don’t really exist anymore. Is that the real goal here?

“The college’s reply falls into the category of audacious obfuscation,” says Michael Toscano of the National Association of Scholars (, a conservative academic group. Last year it produced “The Bowdoin Project,” a voluminous study of the school’s left-wing academic and social climate.

Although the school’s fraught relationship with the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship has been going on for years, and was explored in depth in the NAS’ 2013 report, Toscano said, “Bowdoin is presenting this ‘non-discrimination’ policy as something that emerged disinterestedly and spontaneously.”

But, he continues, that’s not true. “In fact, Bowdoin was using this policy to wrestle the BCF into place, to force it to deny its commitments to orthodox Christianity’s teachings on conjugal sexuality.”

That seems obvious. So, what should the students do? Recall that Jesus told his followers to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The college has absolutely no right to tell Christians to act against their faith. But it does control its own facilities.

The students and their advisers have handled Bowdoin’s attempt at unjust coercion correctly. If that means gathering off campus as, perhaps, the “Polar Bear Christian Fellowship,” as some have said they will do, I want to be invited to one of their meetings.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

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