InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national organization represented on more than 600 college campuses, including UNC, began firing employees who support LGBTQ rights and marriage equality on Nov. 11, according to TIME Magazine.
Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s national vice president and director of campus engagement, said the reason for InterVarsity’s recent controversial policy is avoiding hypocrisy.
“InterVarsity, like every religious organization, hopes and expects that its representatives reflect the beliefs of that organization,” he said. “So the Catholic Church appropriately hopes that its popes will both be celibate and teach Catholic doctrine.”
“Similarly, InterVarsity is asking employees to believe and behave in ways which are consistent with what we teach and what the Christian church has taught for 2,000 years. When religious leaders don’t reflect or believe what their religion teaches, usually we find that that’s our definition of hypocrisy. And we all don’t like that. So we’re asking our staff to avoid that.”
InterVarsity’s policy is not unique among Christian employers, or even other religious organizations, Jao said.
“It’s also exactly what any Orthodox Jewish or Orthodox Muslim group would teach,” he said. “It, in fact, is the official position of the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church. At one level, the vast majority of world religions share the theology with us on this issue.”
Lindsay Carter, Newman Catholic Center student ministry coordinator, said the Catholic Church does not encourage marriage between LGBTQ individuals.
“But it’s one of those things that if you are coming and have faith, we will open our doors, and we will love you as our brother and as our sister,” she said. “So as Pope Francis said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ And that’s what we believe. Again, we wouldn’t celebrate the marriage of LGBTQ participants, but we would certainly welcome them into our church.”
Sarah Kowalski, a UNC College Life leader, said they have no openly LGBTQ participants, although she would personally love to have them.
Gabby Brown, UNC Sexuality and Gender Alliance secretary, said she has personally struggled to negotiate her LGBTQ identity with her religious identity.
“I know that being where we are geographically, in the Bible Belt, it can be very difficult,” Brown said. “When we grow up in an area that is very conservative, Christian and unsupportive of LGBTQ rights, it’s very difficult to make your Christian and your LGBTQ identity align.”
Campus ministries seem to tolerate the presence of LGBTQ individuals, Brown said.
“Well the few (campus ministries) that I’ve attended seem to not really mind. But it seems less like people pushing for LGBTQ rights and more tolerating people who are in the community,” she said.
Jao said he knows an LGBTQ individual who has managed to reconcile their sexuality and their spirituality.
“What they said is, ‘I believe it is consistent for me to both embrace my identity as a queer Christian, and to embrace what the Church has taught for 2,000 years,” Jao said.
The Newman Center has participants that are openly gay, Carter said.
“We love to live by our motto that all are welcome, so we open our doors to anyone,” she said.
“We have several participants who are openly gay. We have transgender participants who love coming to celebrate mass with us and are involved in all of our student activities. It’s definitely something that we’re open to.”