Georgetown University, a catholic school in the Virginia suburbs of DC, has kicked evangelical groups off campus, prohibiting them from having any kind of campus presence, includeing holding meetings or Bible studies, publicizing events, leading students on retreats, or even helping people move into their dorms. The move was made by, of all people, the school’s Protestant chaplain, who noted in his letter that the ministries’ banishment was the result of “much dialogue with the Lord.” In other words, God told me to.
The issue is reportedly the result of a desire for greater control by the chaplain’s office over the on-campus activities of Protestant ministries. Last year, ministries were asked to sign a statement in which they agreed not to “proselytize nor undermine another faith community.” Furthermore, staff members had to sign a statement “expressing respect for the Catholic faith as a legitimate path to God.” Well, I suppose one ought not be surprised that a Catholic school would take the latter measure, but it is disappointing nonetheless. (One does have to question the legality of prohibiting something like a retreat.) While in college, I myself was part of an evangelical student group that was similarly banned from the campus by the school chaplain. While that presented hurtles to ministry, it was not a death knell. In fact, the ministry was thriving.
Perhaps these developments will spur local churches to step into the void of seeking to reach and disciple Georgetown students. I would love to see a day when para-church ministries are not needed on college campuses because God-fearing and gospel-preaching local churches are engaging the campus community and students are plugging into them.