Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line
At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions
Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists
‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam
‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6
Debate over the expansion of religion at Harvard has split the United Ministry to Students. Five student groups yesterday backed having General Education courses in religion and a University chaplain for undergraduates, while the Unitarians blasted the program. At the same time three political organizations expressed doubts about the plan.
The five proponents of the plan support expansion of the College's religious program similar to what Provost Buck and his committee are considering. They ask that the courses in religion "be taught by a Christian from a Christian point of view," and recommend that the official chaplain have assistants of all faiths.
Freedom Not Violated
Academic freedom would not be violated by allowing a minister to voice his beliefs the writers said, since students can evaluate his words for themselves.
In contrast, the Unitarian Eliot Club--through Ann Geer '53, its president---issued the following statement: "The Eliot Club is opposed to a G.E. course given by anyone hired on the basis of an individual religious experience. We believe that the objective presentation of religion is adequately covered in the College. The individual approach can best be developed through the churches in this area."
Under consideration by the Buck committee are proposals calling for a University preacher with the status of professor to teach G.E. courses on religion and run Memorial Church. A chaplain might also be appointed to substitute for some of the advisory duties of the Hygiene Department.
Other Groups Share Views
Other religious groups in general yesterday shared, with modifications, the views of the United Ministry leaders.
Of the University-recognized religious group, the Appleton Club, the Christian Science Organization, and the Christian Fellowship expressed varying degrees of approval. The Catholic Club refused to comment.
Maurice L. Zigmond, director of the local Hillel Foundation (Jewish), said that he will cooperate. He pointed out that the courses "could be approached from many points of view besides the theological" and wanted "the nature and viewpoint of the course to be clearly understood," before the student takes the course.
Rabbi Zigmond thought it would be "almost impossible to represent all religions."
George A. Selleck, adviser to the Quaker group, also agreed that the plan was feasible and commented that "the teaching of religion can be as objective as any course can."
The vice-chairman of the Appleton Club, Alan 10. Brokaw '52, cited the program of 30 courses on religion at Columbia, as a possible goal here.
Plan Might Go Overboard
Richard W. Eliott, Jr. 2G, president of the local Christian Science Organization, said he is "in favor" of the plan, but warned that such a program might go overboard and "create much unhappiness if the preacher used it as a vehicle for his own religion."
Much of the argument ranged around the selection of the preachers. The Appleton Club favors equal representation of the different religions, but the Christian Science Organization maintains that "if a professor is going to give the course he should be allowed to give it as he sees fit. . . very interesting to include other instructors, but if the professor has an idea he should be allowed to work it out."
What Manner of Preacher
The Christian Fellowship representative suggested that a Protestant minister be appointed because of "the University's Protestant origin." He wants a Protestant minister who is objective and "would not be tied to any specific church."
The Wesley Foundation's president, Charles E Norton '52, agreed that all major religions should be represented. "For those who are not strongly denominationally minded this offers an opportunity which is definitely lacking today."
Religion can be stressed too much, Norton warned; then the courses turn into "a Christ Conquest." He also raised doubts as to how many would visit the chaplain.
Political groups have also entered the verbal battle. The Young Republican Club's president, John B. Harrington 2L, said that undergraduates taking the proposed course would probably feel that it is a "necessary part of their education and cultural background."
He also stated that "a general concensus of the members seems to be that the plan is a good one as long as there is no school-sponsored religion, that there is no requirement to take the course, and that all religions be represented."
According to Liberal Union President M. Joel Mandelbaum '53, "Without a rotation system there is always a danger that a chaplain and or a preacher will satisfy only a small percent of the University's enrollment and that anyway the University's environment offers sufficient religious horizons."
"There are other things more seriously lacking in the curriculum--as, for example, a professional guidance system or faculty proponents of Marxism or progressive views," said Lowell P. Beveridge, Jr. '52, president of the Progressives.
Beveridge also commented that "the Ivy League colleges have a reputation for being Christian in the restrictive sense of the word and in instituting this course or in appointing a chaplain, there would be a danger of furthering this idea with the result that non-Christians would feel themselves even more excluded."
In a sermon on Sunday in Memorial Church, Dean Charles L. Taylor, Jr. of the Episcopal Theological School--one of the six members of Provost Buck's committee on religion--called upon his hearers "to tell the truth and the whole truth" as much in questions of religion as in anything else "no matter what the cost."
He stated that a University education which dealt with any aspect of truth by ignoring it was not freeing itself from taking a stand, but was in reality failing to measure up to the demands laid upon it to present the whole truth.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.