Thursday, March 6, 2014

Christian sorority kicks out couple

A bit of local news, for me: Two members of the Christian sorority ADX at UC Berkeley were kicked out for forming a relationship with each other.  Despite the support of their local chapter, the national board of ADX decided it was against the charter.  The couple now protests ADX.  Good for them.

On Friendly Atheist, most people felt the same way. But a couple commenters argued that ADX was within their rights:
And the fact is that sororities and other groups have a right to hold to a certain ideology and expect their members to hold to it as well. Nobody is being treated like a second class citizen. Nobody's rights are being taken away.
They didn't need to join such an organization, unless of course their goal is to change it from within. If the organization has no goals, no guidelines, and no consistency, it would not be a "Christian" sorority.
Let's take these arguments seriously for a moment.  It's true that organizations have a right to enforce certain rules on their members, and exclude people who disobey.  It's not just that they have the right, sometimes it is just and good.  For instance, I've heard that many queer sororities and fraternities have a rule against members dating each other.  This is a just and good rule because breakups can ruin communities.

But some rules, even legal ones, are injust and bad.  To sort out the good from the bad, the rules should be subject to public criticism and social pressure.

ADX disallowing same-gender relationships is not a good and just rule.  Kicking out loyal members from a group is never good in itself, and needs some other good to justify it.  Christianity is not sufficient justification because Christianity is not justified.

Of course, that argument is not very satisfactory because obviously the members of ADX are Christian, and we're not going to agree on Christianity any time soon.  Indeed, the protesting couple is Christian as well, so they have to resort to different arguments:
ADX is supposed to be interdenominational, Foo argued. What about Christians who support same-sex relationships?
There are valid arguments to be made on Christian terms.  As in the quote above, ADX's policy goes against their goal of being interdenominational.  You could also criticize ADX for not being upfront about excluding people in same-sex relationships (the charter only says something about not letting sisters "stumble").  Or you could make Christian arguments against homophobia.  Or you could just point to the way this community tore itself apart.

I think all these arguments are good and useful.  But even if it's not the most persuasive argument, the main reason I think ADX's policy was unjustified is because homophobia is harmful and Christianity is unjustified.  Even if the group were upfront about being exclusive, I would still criticize the group.  The couple, Kylie and Sophia, does not have to agree with me.  I nevertheless applaud their activism.


miller said...

In this circumstance, I would target the Cal ADX group leadership for criticism specifically. Cal ADX can continue to exist without being part of a national organization. If the Cal group's leadership doesn't believe in discriminating against GLB Christians and the national organization is requiring them to discriminate anyway, it's time to take a stand.

miller said...

That was my thought as well. If the ADX chapter were really motivated, they would consider switching
to a different greek organization. At least, that's what I think, not
knowing anything about greeks.

You might find it interesting to read the full story. The Cal ADX chapter did take a stand by voting to keep Kylie and Sophia. This resulted in ADX cutting their budget for social events. It ended when Kylie and Sophia left by their own will.