It is an unfortunate time when we need to be asked to pray for one of the oldest universities in Australia, which formerly carried a strong theological basis. It has progressed through a feminist and homosexual revolution, and now its next movement seems to be eliminating discrimination. This should be a good thing, but it is being taken to the extreme. A recent change in the program of the University of Sydney Union (USU), which funds and allows the operations of societies, states that to remove exclusion, societies are not allowed to have exclusive membership requirements. At the moment, the only society being targeted from this is the Sydney University Evangelical Union (EU), which for over eighty years has traditionally asked its members to sign a faith-based declaration. It’s a very general declaration stating that Jesus is Lord, and the only benefit of being a member is being able to vote and run for executive positions. The EU will eagerly inform you that non-members and non-Christians are encouraged to attend every event, with some receiving subsidises.
Now the USU is threatening to de-register the EU unless they change this rule. After a vote among the EU members, they have decided to keep this rule and risk facing de-registration. Various newspapers have pointed out the irony of using an anti-discrimination policy to remove the religious freedom of a faith-based group. Why can’t a religious group be allowed to “discriminate” on who can become their leader? Even more ironic is that when the EU leaders explained that the United Nations protects the rights of a religious group to associate, the USU replied by saying they haven’t signed this agreement themselves. However, since it is the USU and not the United Nations that is controlling the societies, they may very well face deregistration. If this occurs the EU will still be allowed to run unofficially, but likely without as much presence as before. So please pray for the EU, that they may continue being the much-needed evangelical presence on campus.