Editor’s note: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is an inter-denominational, Christian ministry founded in 1941 that works with students and faculty on U.S. higher education campuses. This piece is a guest column.
InterVarsity rejects claims that we do not care about the sanctity of life. Scripture is clear about that topic. As expressed previously, InterVarsity believes all lives are sacred, born and unborn.
Some concerns stem from an invited speaker at Urbana 15, who issued a prophetic call for sacrificial lifestyle change that dignifies all people. As an illustration, she challenged those who work to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood to take the next step with their justice activism and adopt orphans currently in foster care. Some heard her words as a dismissal of pro-life activism. That was not her intention, and she has since clarified on her blog that she cares about both the born and the unborn.
Other concerns stem from a misrepresentation in the media from Students for Life, an organization that sought to exhibit at Urbana. Students for Life was not accepted as an exhibiting agency because it did not meet four of the seven criteria required for Urbana exhibitors. The exhibit hall at Urbana is designed to be a place where students and recent graduates can explore opportunities for cross-cultural missions work, and seminaries and training programs that equip them to serve in missions. Students for Life cannot affirm InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Basis. It does not belong to an accrediting or oversight body or network. It does not offer short- or long-term cross-cultural missions opportunities.
These are basic expectations for exhibitors at a Christian missions conference. We also explained that exhibiting agencies must demonstrate that they advance the gospel in word and deed. While Students for Life advances gospel values in their admirable pro-life work, their strategy prevents them from making evangelism an explicit core commitment. We would be criticized if we allowed other non-Christian, non-evangelistic, non-accredited agencies to exhibit at Urbana. Students for Life purports InterVarsity is not pro-life because we did not let them exhibit. They are incorrect.