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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Trinity President apologises for hosting Christian Concern

The President of Trinity College, Sir Ivor Roberts, has released a statement of apology following growing opposition to the fact that the college hosted the controversial Christian Concern for their annual ‘Wilberforce Academy’ conference.

In his statement, Sir Ivor said, “Trinity has been contacted by a number of current and old members about the holding in College of a conference organised by Christian Concern. When the booking was taken for this conference we were not aware of the organisation’s background. The name rang no bells.

“What was known was that the delegates were to be addressed by both a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and another Anglican bishop, and so the request to use Trinity facilities appeared to be perfectly reasonable and one that we would have no cause to question.”

He went on to specify exactly what action Trinity would take in response to vocal opposition to the group’s presence in the college by students, explaining, “We have set up a review of our procedures for college use by outside agencies. Trinity regrets that any current or old members were upset by the fact that we gave houseroom unwittingly to Christian Concern.
Any profits from the conference will be given to an appropriate charity.’

Christian Concern have been branded homophobic in the past, largely due to their staunch opposition to same sex marriage. In a blog posted in May last year, the group’s CEO Andrea Williams accused the incumbent government of extraordinary arrogance for attempting to pass a bill on same sex marriage, and asked “Why are they so committed to imposing same-
sex marriage on us all?”

Trinity’s own Christian group, the Christian Union, has distanced itself from Christian Concern, with a representative stating that, “The Christian Union in Trinity were not involved in the conference or the decision by college to host it. The CU is committed to sharing the love of God with all people in our college and in the wider university.”

In response to accusations of radical and divisive views held by the organisation, Christian Concern’s founder Williams hit back with the assertion that, “The views held by Christian Concern are not ‘radical’ in any way. They are the views held historically by the Christian Church for the past 2000 years and should therefore come as no shock to anyone.

“Freedom of speech and freedom within learning has been a principle which we should all strive to maintain. The day when academic institutions, or governments, start ‘banning’ free speech and free ‘discussion’ at universities is the day when we start to see our society censored, and the very start of ‘mind control’.’

An undergraduate student of Trinity College, Crawford Jamieson, held views more in keeping with the vast majority of Trinity students, however. He told Cherwell, “LGBTQ students within Trinity College certainly felt, and quite rightly, that the presence of Christian

Concern within the college was a slap in the face. However, the mistake does seem to have been genuine on the part of the college and the President’s response has been appropriate.”

Trinity is now expected to take similar action to that taken by Exeter College last year. In 2012, Exeter also faced controversy for allowing Christian Concern to use the college facilities for their conference. The college donated profits made to causes supported by LGBTQ, the sexual rights and awareness group.

Katie Colliver, OUSU’s Vice President for Welfare and Equal Opportunities was not completely satisfied with the outcome. While pleased to see that Trinity had taken on board the objections of its students and would be reviewing its booking procedures, she added, “It is frustrating that they were unable to learn from Exeter’s experience last year.’

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