Today, the New York Times published a front-page article on Bowdoin College’s refusal to allow a Christian student organization to choose group leaders who are committed to traditional Christian teachings on sexuality. The title of the article, “Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy,” perceptively describes an emerging clash on college and university campuses across the country.
As a top-tier liberal arts college, a recognized “leader” in higher education, Bowdoin often sets precedents emulated elsewhere. The article describes how the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF), and all other religious groups at the college, are being required in principle by the administration to accept as leaders openly gay students. The college calls this “non-discrimination.” This otherwise parochial story has gained the Times’ attention because the BCF has refused to sign the non-discrimination agreement; Bowdoin has responded by evicting their volunteer leaders and withholding recognition from the BCF as an officially-sanctioned group.
NAS members and readers will not be surprised by this development. Our major report on Bowdoin College, What Does Bowdoin Teach?, examined in its entirety the values that Bowdoin embraces and seeks to instill in its students. Our report traced some of the underlying conflicts within the community and paid special attention to how Bowdoin’s sexual ethos marginalized religious groups on campus, especially the BCF. For the wider context to this story, see pages 235 to 240 and 298 to 308.
In short, we saw this coming. As we said in the report, “Advocates of traditional marriage face serious obstacles to free expression of their views at Bowdoin.”
It turns out that Bowdoin doesn’t have room for both “Queer Gardens” and Eden.