Today at ATS has been interesting. On a more comical note (or so I choose to take it) was parliamentary chaos. After torturous amendments, referrals I don't remember being voted on that were sometimes called reconsidering, substitute amendments to a not really so controversial paragraph suffering from lack of wordsmithing, someone stood up and called for the question. The moderator, who was a precious soul, nonetheless had no idea what the person was talking about. "What question?" or something like that was the response.
The really controversial item today was about a seminary associated with Sun Myung Moon's group. Apparently this seminary, which is actually accredited by the Middle States accrediting group, was unanimously denied associate membership at the last biennial meeting. This time they were up for affiliate status, which is a status that does not move toward membership and is reserved for non-degree granting institutions and non-Christian and non-Jewish faiths.
This motion also failed, despite the unanimous recommendation of the commission board, which included such individuals as Richard Mouw, president of Fuller. What was ironic to me is that the last vote to deny them membership was tantamount to saying they were not a Christian institution. The big objection to affiliate status was that they claimed to be Christian.
I believe these are change pains related to the procedural ones I mentioned yesterday. Over time, the association has allowed numerous evangelical and fundamentalist institutions into its membership as an indication of its generosity toward other groups. These groups are the ones who will almost certainly approve changes to the rules on residency and duration of degrees next 2012 meeting.
But as is often the case, those groups that value pluralism often find that the non-pluralistic groups they welcome into their fellowship often then try to stop pluralism when they gain power. This can be the case with conservative Islamic groups. It can be with conservative Christian groups. The openness that welcomes conservative groups can eventually empower those same groups to shut down openness.
Obviously I am not arguing for individual groups to water down their identities. I am simply affirming that it is best for the "pudding" in which such diverse groups exist to be open. This is my understanding of the non-establishment clause of the US Constitution, and I affirm it. ATS is an umbrella organization that has, for example, included Jewish seminaries since the beginning. I don't have a vote, but as far as I can tell, all the representatives from Wesleyan family schools voted in favor of granting this school affiliate status.