Campus Christians accused of breaking Students' Union rules

Alexandra Wood A GROUP of Christian students has been brought to book – for being run by believers. A row has erupted between the Hull University's Students' Union and the university's UCCF Christian Union, which won't allow non-believers like atheists to be on the ruling committee.

The students' union says anyone, regardless of whether they are a Christian or not, should be allowed on the group's executive.

But the Christian Union, which has 50 members, says while they encourage non-Christians to attend meetings, at the end of the day they want to be run by people of the same faith.

Christian Union vice-president Simeon Livesey said: "This is political correctness gone mad and mad doesn't really come close – it is actually quite serious.

"This involves our freedom and ability to follow our faith properly. In order to follow a faith properly the leadership needs to be Christian.''

Colin Hart, the director of the Christian Institute, which is backing the group, added: "It is completely crazy.

"Hull CU is being told that it cannot require its leaders to be Christians. It is totally intolerant of the right of students to associate with like-minded people.

"The union would not dare tell the Muslim society that it must be run by non-Muslims."

The problem began in January when the Union Council threatened to revoke the CU's status as a Union society unless it changed its constitution which requires members of its executive committee to be practicing Christians who must sign the CU's basis of faith.

Mr Livesey said they were told they could make their constitution much shorter and vaguer, but they felt this was not honest.

Both sides have taken legal advice.

The CU says the Student Council's decision not to ratify the CU constitution is unlawful.

And it claims a clear breach of the 1986 Education (No 2) Act which guarantees freedom of speech on campus, as well as European Convention rights on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

But the University of Hull Students' Union is also not backing down – Union secretary Kieron Broadhead said the aim of the rules was inclusivity.

"We have a Jewish and an Islamic society and they abide by the same rules,'' he said.

A spokesman for the Students' Union said: "The Students' Union has clear rules by which all societies functioning under its umbrella must abide and the UCCF Christian Union is no exception.

"Students' Union procedures clearly state that all societies must present their constitutions to elected members annually for ratification.

"The Students' Union Council this year voted overwhelming not to ratify the revised constitution put forward by the UCCF Christian Union, judging that a clause within it was in breach of the Union's regulations on equality of opportunity relating to societies.

"As far as the Students' Union Council is concerned, the UCCF has been treated no differently to any other club or society and therefore the decision of Council members must stand.

"Members of the UCCF Christian Union are still being allowed to use Students' Union facilities to hold their regular meetings and are not being discriminated against in any way."