The Issue of Inclusiveness

by Spencer Jones | 7/27/01 5:00am

To the Editor:

Though to debate the definition of "Christianity" on the editorial pages of The Dartmouth in itself seems more than partly insensitive and misplaced, I would be remiss in not writing in response to the move by the Summer Christian Fellowship to bar Meredith Brooks from a leadership role and the subsequent narrow categorizations of Mormonism that have played themselves out on these op-ed pages.

The crux of the issue that seems to have been thus far missed in this debate is that the Summer Christian Fellowship, as sponsored by the Tucker Foundation, was to maintain a "nondenominational" and presumably open forum for those interested in basic "Christian" beliefs.

The range of denominations to self-categorize themselves as Christian at Dartmouth -- be they Catholic, Protestant, Mormon or otherwise -- certainly varies in the respective doctrinal specifics. But it seems trivial to attempt to limit a definition of Christianity itself based on those specifics rather than including all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. Such attempts, indeed, do bridge on intolerant for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have faced decades of persecution for their unique -- and granted, different -- brand of Christian theology. It seems strange that participants in the SCF -- especially in light of however they wish to define their own basic religious tenets of goodwill and acceptance -- should feel threatened or opposed to inclusiveness in their group, and feel a need to exclude and even slander others via group email and individual letters to the editor.

I urge Dean Stuart Lord and the Tucker Foundation to reconsider their support of the SCF if it fails to reconsider the self-erected barriers to membership and leadership that run counter to its organizational status. Among whatever other challenges this campus may face in becoming more inclusive of all students regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., let us be careful not to add religion as yet another divider between us.