Students for Life applied to be an exhibitor* at Urbana, Intervarsity’s triennial student missions conference, and was denied for failure to meet the criteria requirements.
One of the major requirements for exhibitors is to be able to affirm InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Statement.
It’s clear in the doctrinal statement, which Students for Life could not affirm, that InterVarsity is pro-life and believes in the value and dignity of all people.
“InterVarsity believes Scripture is clear. We believe all life is sacred. We believe that pro-life organizations are doing an admiral work that reflects Gospel values,” says Greg Jao with InterVarsity.
Students for Life is not the first organization to be denied for being unable to meet the specific exhibitor criteria.
But, the accusations don’t end there.
Many have also had concerns about comments made by a speaker invited to the triennial student missions conference. Some have felt her comments dismissed pro-life activism.
“Our speaker challenged Urbana participants to engage in the hard activism of sacrificial lifestyle change, rather than just the easy activism of speaking,” clarifies Jao.
“My sense, from talking to her, was she wasn’t attempting to say pro-life activism or pro-life activities are unimportant or not valuable. But what she was saying is if everybody engaged in those activities went yet another step further to do the hard work of adopting children who are currently uncared for, we’d have a much more comprehensive and convincing witness to the world.”
The speaker wanted to draw the same line James does with the idea that faith is shown through works.
“The example she gave was there are 100,000 children in foster care right now. There are 300,000 protestant churches in the United States. If our churches just decided to deal with that problem, we could solve it tomorrow,” explains Jao.
The speaker in no way meant to dismiss the need to protest organizations like Planned Parenthood. But instead, she tried to urge listeners not to stop with protest but to act on those protests in love. An example of this is adopting a child, who has not been aborted and desperately needs to be loved.
Finally, the last concern regarding the speaker is whether or not she was invited to represent the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Jao clarifies saying, “We invited her because she’s a minister working in St. Louis [where the conference is held] — often alongside #BlackLivesMatter activists, but not as a representative of that organization. What she would say is she’s gotten involved in caring about the safety and dignity of black life because it’s consistent with her overall pro-life ethic: All lives should be protected. All lives should be safe. And all lives should be given dignity and respect.”
InterVarsity welcomes any comments, concerns, or questions about their pro-life stance. Just contact InterVarsity through its website or by calling 608-274-9001.
*The Urbana exhibition hall is designed for students and graduates to explore opportunities in cross-cultural missions work. It hosts organizations, seminaries, and training programs that can help prepare attendees to serve overseas.