Published on October 16, 2013 | by Laura Zapasnikaite0
Call for dialogue as atheism row escalatesChaplaincy leaders at UAL have called for more open debate over issues of faith after two LSE students were ordered to cover up ‘Jesus and Mo’ T-shirts at their freshers’ fair.
Abhishek Phandnis and Chris Moos, who are members of the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, were asked by Students’ Union leaders and security staff to cover up the T-shirts ‘in the interest of good campus relations’, as other students had complained that they were offensive.
After refusing to comply, a member of LSE’s legal and compliance team told them they would be physically removed from the fair if they did not cover up.
UAL Head Chaplain, William Whitcombe, believed the incident should be seen as an opportunity for greater dialogue over the issue: ‘The time has never been more pressing for conversation to flow between people of faith and no faith at all.”
In a statement, Phandnis and Moos said: “[The] abrasive behaviour of LSE SU staff was not aimed at protecting other students from harm, but rather an attempt to humiliate us in front of dozens of students. We were threatened with physical removal.”
According to a statement released by LSE press office, the T-shirts were “designed to depict Mohammed and Jesus in a provocative manner”.
The incident caught the attention of author and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who tweeted: ‘The SU Sanctimonious Prigs have STILL not resigned and LSE officials are complicit.”
President of the National Atheist, Humanist and Secularist student societies, Rory Fenton, said: “This is not a legal issue at the moment. We are not trying to bring in UK Law. We are trying to understand how this was interpreted as harassment.”