Winter Park, Florida — A college in Florida recently shut down an informal Bible study being held by several students in a dorm room.
According to reports, four students at Rollins College in Winter Park gathered together last week to read and study the Bible. However, when a hall assistant passed through the area and saw the students, they asked the person leading the study to step aside.
“He was told they were no longer allowed inside the dorm — even with the express consent of the students to do Bible studies,” InterVarsity’s national field director Greg Jao told reporter Todd Starnes. “They said it was because InterVarsity was no longer a registered student group on campus.”
“It was really sad,” one of the four stated. “One of the students in our group called it ‘frightening.’”
However, college officials state that there is misunderstanding over the matter, as no organization is permitted to meet in the commons area.
“No group is allowed to hold meetings in the common space of residence halls,” they explained. “A fraternity was recently in violation of this as well, and they were asked to meet elsewhere – so it was not just InterVarsity.”
But Jao said that students should be able to study the Bible together informally as the gathering was not an official InterVarsity event.
“We pointed out that Christian students holding a Bible study is a little bit different than a fraternity sponsoring a kegger in a dorm,” he said. “If students want to have a Bible study, they should be free to do so.”
Prior to the incident, InterVarsity had been de-recognized at the college after being told that it had violated the school’s non-discrimination policy because it required that its leaders be Christians.
“The nondiscrimination policy is turning into an exclusionary policy in their hands and we’re hoping the college will see the irony in what’s happening,” Jao stated.
The college states that the students have been given rights to use the chapel on campus, but InterVarsity says that because they have been re-recognized, they have uncertainties about whether they will really be allowed to meet there.
Other groups around the country have been facing similar challenges. As previously reported, a Christian club at the University of Michigan was recently ousted from campus for refusing to change its constitution, which requires that its leaders be Christians. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship states that it was informed by campus officials that its policies conflicted with the university’s policies, which prohibit discrimination.
Last year, numerous Christian groups at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee likewise faced opposition from administration for limiting its leadership to fellow Christians. Fifteen clubs lost recognition over their refusal to comply with the school’s all-comers policy.
“With decisions like this, it makes the claim that whatever group is being removed off campus isn’t worthy of having that voice,” a Rollins College student told reporters. “They are not valued by the college.”