This website celebrates the unique heritage of Bay View, a Chautauqua on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. The stately pillars of Bay View’s Hall Auditorium symbolize the Four Pillars on which programming and community life in this historic summer enclave are based—Education, Religion, Performing Arts and Recreation. Founded in 1875, Bay View is one of 14 members of the Chautauqua Network.
On these pages, you’ll also find news and opinion about the challenges facing our community as we seek answers to the hard questions surrounding Bay View’s current membership practices.
WHAT IS A CHAUTAUQUA?
“Let us cultivate our garden.” Voltaire
Chautauqua “is the most American thing in America”
As a Chautauqua, Bay View both special and an excellent example. It is poised to model the Chautauqua ideal in the 21st Century. Click here more on CHAUTAUQUAS.
CAMPAIGN FOR INCLUSIVENESS IN BAY VIEW.
Bay View’s only original membership requirements were to be of age and of “good moral character”. In the 1940s and again in the 1980s, unfortunate attempts were made to limit membership, first to “Caucasians” and “Christians”, and then to a limited definition of “Christians”. While the “Caucasian” requirements were removed, in Bay View today only Christians can own a cottage. Applicants for membership are interviewed where their personal religious beliefs are explored, assessed and judged. Applicants must pass a religious test. A conformity of religious beliefs is required. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and Christians who do not espouse the principles of the United Methodist Church are excluded from membership. Since 2009 Bay View members have campaigned to change the membership requirements. A 2018 amendment to the BV By-laws was an important step toward moderating the previous religious test for membership. However, a subsequent directive from the Board president makes it clear that the language in the 2018 By-law (a text of the By-law can be found HERE: 2018 BV Membership By-Law) can be interpreted and applied in such a way as to discriminate based on religion (for the directive, click HERE: Chism Email). Although the directive was withdrawn on advice of BV’s attorney, it shows that the amendment can be construed to continue religious discrimination. This is why efforts for a legal remedy continue.
The Bay View inclusiveness movement seeks to strengthen the community that we all love so much. We seek to persuade our friends and family that an inclusive Bay View will be stronger to face a challenging future. Even though the lawsuit gets the most attention in the media [IN THE NEWS: You can find links to the many national and global media stories about Bay View’s Inclusiveness challenge here], legalities are not the only reason, or even the main reason, behind the inclusiveness campaign. There are at least five dimensions to the inclusiveness movement, each of which cries out for a policy change in Bay View. Each of these is summarized on the links below.
1) Family, friends and neighbors are harmed by the current policy of religious intolerance. Marge Bayes captures the personal stories of many who have suffered and are suffering from this discrimination: Click here to access WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
2) The tradition of the Chautauqua movement and of Bay View is one of religious tolerance. Although Bay View and the Chautauqua movement were founded by Methodists, nondenominationalism was a Chautauqua principle from the beginning. —- The Facts: Bay View’s Membership History is available on the HISTORY page (click HERE).
3) Christianity is welcoming. Jesus Christ supported religious tolerance as does the United Methodist Church. For articles on this topic see the REFLECTIONS page.
4) Freedom of religion is a foundational America value. Demanding religious conformity is un-American. To access an article Religious Freedom: Bay View’s American and True Heritage by Attorney Arthur Anderson, click HERE [pending] which links to the CHAUTAUQUAS page.
5) The law mandates religious tolerance. Federal and state law prohibit discrimination in the sale of housing based on a person’s religious beliefs. Bay View is violating the law. For a Timeline of Bay View’s Membership History and Legal Challenges pending in Federal Court and HUD: Click HERE
We welcome follow-up questions on the Inclusiveness Campaign. If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, feel free to CONTACT US. We will do our best to respond to you promptly.
This website is not the official website of the Bay View Association. For more information about Bay View events, classes, and recreational activities, visit bayviewassociation.org.
Shown from left in the panorama: part of the historic Bay View campus including Women’s Council, Bookstore/Secretary’s office and Speakers’ Platform (now Museums), Epworth Hall (faculty housing), Hitchcock (Festival rehearsal rooms) and Hall Auditorium.
[Access comments on this Home page by clicking on the ‘balloon’ near the top of the page or the Replies counter below. All other pages can also accept Comments.] COPYRIGHT: FRIENDS OF THE BAY VIEW CHAUTAUQUA[TM], 2011