IN A NOW familiar battle, the Concerned Charistians at Harvard (CCH) is switching tactics.
The group last month extended its campaign for the Reverend Peter J. Gomes' resignation as Memorial Church minister by reviving allegations by a former church administrator that Gomes had mismanged the church in the mid-1980s. They have taken their attack on Gomes to the national media--appearing in Time magazine, The Washington Post, on PBS and scheduled for CNN.
In doing, so the Concerned Christians have left behind their doctrinal dispute with Gomes over the Bible's view of homosexuality that they first cited last February in forming their group.
Should Gomes resign? We say no. Should the administration open up Memorial Church records to set the records straight? Absolutely.
CCH'S MOTIVES and its sudden concern for the financial administration of Memorial Church need to be questioned. The student group's gripe is with Gomes' sexual orientation, and with the fact that he says homosexuality is compatible with Christianity.
Last November, Gomes announced he is gay at a rally sponsored by the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association to protest Peninsula magazine, a conservative journal near and dear to the hearts of many CCH members.
Notwithstanding our support for the acceptance of homosexuality, we acknowledge that reasonable people can and do disagree over its religious permissibility. But CCH's dispute with Gomes is more than just doctrinal.
Indeed, CCH is little more than a front group of the dynamic fringe conservative due of Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality (AALARM) and Peninsula. All of CCH's founding members are officers of at least one of these groups, both of which harbor a personal animosity toward Gomes for his criticism of Peninsula last October.
NOW, CCH claims that Gomes violated University guidelines on nepotism in hiring in 1987 a student who was living at his Sparks House residence. In addition, the group alleges that Gomes entertained lavishly in 1986, resulting in a $140,000 budget deficit. And they say he helped the catering firm of a former Divinity School classmate by contracting $35,000 worth of business with him.
CCH is reviving these stale allegations from a disgruntled former church employee who readily acknowledges his bitterness towards Gomes for firing him.
The University conducted an internal investigation of church finances in 1986 and implemented a number of administrative changes, but officials have refused to disclose details of the investigation and subsequent reforms.
So CCH is correct on at least one count--insisting that the compulsively secretive University administration release the results of its probe and provide documentation clearing Gomes' name. We cannot simply accept their word that Gomes did nothing improper in running the church.
Unless Harvard makes the reports public, or Gomes releases the details himself, we are only left with speculation. We don't want to be told by the University simply that no wrongdoing occurred. We don't want to trust CCH and a disgruntled former employee to tell us that funds were mismanaged. We would like to decide for ourselves if the allegations are true and how serious they are.