Skip to comments.Vanderbilt to religious students: Are your beliefs really that important?
Posted on 02/01/2012 3:13:43 PM PST by SeekAndFind
On January 20, Vanderbilt University announced that it will prohibit religious and political student groups from making leadership decisions based on their religious or political beliefs. University policy now holds that membership in registered student organizations is open to everyone and that everyone, if desired, has the opportunity to seek leadership positions.
Vanderbilts decision follows months of controversy. Last fall, the Christian Legal Society chapter at Vanderbilt Law School was warned that it could lose recognition after the university found that the groups constitution violated the universitys non-discrimination policy. The constitution required that all group officers must agree with the Christian Legal Societys statement of faith and would be expected to lead Bible studies and prayer groups. Vanderbilt objected, stating that the Christian Legal Societys constitution would seem to indicate that officers are expected to hold certain beliefs.
Tonight, the university is holding a town hall meeting to discuss Vanderbilts decision. At this event, students will likely wish to hear answers to questions such as these about the ramifications of the universitys policy:
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I work, wrote Vanderbilt of these concerns last September, but received no response. FIRE was not alone in its concern: Twenty-three members of the United States Congress, the national Christian Legal Society, Vanderbilt law professor Carol Swain, Roman Catholic Bishop David Choby of Nashville, and many others warned Vanderbilt that a decision to deny religious or political groups the right to require that their leaders believe in the groups mission would severely impair the rights of Vanderbilt students.
Indeed, Vanderbilt promises that students are entitled to exercise the rights of citizens, yet the universitys decision now forbids them from doing so. Vanderbilt students now have fewer rights than their counterparts at the University of Tennessee or their friends from high school who chose not to attend college at all.
I hope that Vanderbilt is prepared to answer the above questions in a way that will not alarm or dismay Vanderbilts students or the general public.
Robert Shibley is the senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
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Sounds like a threat to me...
Thanks for the culture war ping. I hope Vanderbilt is forced to retract this policy.
I hope alums will retract their giving. I had to stop sending money to Purdue when they had Bill Ayers on campus for a talk.
“many college religion professors are anti-Christian bigots these days.”
Well, you and I let them go to work every day unhindered, so I don’t guess we have any room to complain.
Yes, if enough of their alums stop giving and tell them why, that might motivate Vanderbilt to retract this policy.
What troubles me is Vanderbilts implication that religious beliefs are, like political ones, simply matters of opinion. That there is no truth in religion. That whether Jesus is the Son of God is a question on the same level as the constitutionality of social security.
Until recently, Vanderbilt nursing students were required to participate in abortion procedures, or risk flunking out. The anti-abortion students sued and won...but only because Vanderbilt takes government money, which forbids them to discriminate against someone’s religious beliefs.
First they came for the communists,
and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didnt speak out because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
First they came ” is a famous statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (18921984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The text of the quotation is usually presented roughly as follows:
Obama will fix this when he gets a chance. Acceptance of abortion must trump all rights in his mind.