But now, at last, Georgetown has rediscovered its Catholicism, at least long enough for a Protestant employee of Campus Ministries to send a letter to six evangelical groups, kicking them off campus. The story made the Washington Post and the Washington Times this weekend, with the kind of headlines the public-relations office hates to see: “Georgetown Bars Ministries from Campus,” “Georgetown U. Ejects Private Ministry Groups.”
According to the Washington Times, “the decision—which affects a few hundred students belonging to six Christian groups—forbids the ministries from having any ‘activity or presence’ on campus, including worship services, retreats or helping students move into their dorms. The groups also are prohibited from using the Georgetown name in publicity.”
You always have to be a little wary of campus fights. American colleges invariably have their infighting—and when it spills over into public view, conflicts of personality and battles over turf can clothe themselves in grand claims of principle. Still, there was something odd going on last year when Campus Ministries demanded that the evangelical groups sign a statement promising not to “proselytize nor undermine another faith community.” And there was something even odder when it was done in the name of the school’s Catholic tradition—by the Protestant chaplains in the official Georgetown office.
The problem, of course, finally boils down to this: The evangelical groups represent only a few hundred students, but they are strongly pro-life and opposed to homosexual marriage. The mainline Protestant employees of Campus Ministry find such things embarrassing, and so they kick the evangelicals off campus, employing the power of the officially Catholic chaplain’s office and the rhetoric of the school’s Catholic identity.