The Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has produced a video explaining what Vanderbilt University has done to drive religious groups off campus. You can watch it above. Here’s the description:
“Religious and political groups in the United States have traditionally been free to choose their leaders and members without interference from authorities. That’s no longer true at Vanderbilt University, where the school banned belief-based groups from making belief-based decisions about their members and leaders and drove 13 religious student groups off of campus. In ‘Exiled from Vanderbilt: How Colleges are Driving Religious Groups Off Campus,’ FIRE talks to Vanderbilt students and faculty about how this decision is affecting them.”
The absurd nature of the All Comers Policy is illustrated by the following question:
If a college or university enforces the All Comers Policy would a campus chapter of the NAACP have to allow a Ku Klux Klan adherent to seek a position on its administrative board? The short answer is: Yes.
I think the argument is a bit odd. They don’t mention gays but I think that’s who we are talking about. So more less what is being asked for is University sponsorship for discrimination and harassment of a minority. Conservative Christian groups are asking to enjoy all the freedoms and privileges of University sponsorship, which are reserved for activities that build up the University community while acting in such a way as to tear it down.
This is only tricky because of the religious dimension. We’ve already dealt under Title X with groups that have no good reason to exclude women and do, so something like a male only bowling league would probably face similar pressures. Most Universities in the first half of the 20th century dealt with these sorts of rules with clubs that excluded Catholics via. exclusions on Irish / Italians, or Jews. Most Universities a few decades later dealt with groups that excluded blacks in a similar way. A white’s only chess club would likely be denied official standing in precisely the same way, and this would be applauded.
There exist Christian groups that are affirming and believe that it is possible and desirable to have a Christianity that embraces a God who loves all of humanity and don’t want to add parenthetical to John 3:16 that God so loved the heterosexual world …
There exist Christian groups that believe either believe in a doctrine that God is indifferent to homosexuals and only has a limited atonement which more or less universally excludes them; or that God is welcoming to homosexuals but only under conditions which history has proven are almost impossible to meet and cause enormous psychological harm and anguish.
I don’t see any reason that Vanderbilt University can’t decide that they would like to encourage Christianity to develop in the direction of the first group of sects and discourage the Christianity of the second. I don’t see any reason that Vanderbilt University can’t hold that the second group of sects undermine the cohesiveness of their campus and are a negative influence on their students. Universities have stepped in on societies that are a harmful and negative influence before, like regulating or eliminating hazing; or banning group that have repeatedly encouraged their members to violate state drinking and drug laws. I’ll admit that we don’t tend to treat the
I fully understand there are well argued, well reasoned biblical defenses for the view that homosexuals are moral criminals worthy of eternal damnation unless they somehow manage to reorient their sexuality or agree to live a life of deep unfulfilling chastity. I also believe that books like Dabney’s A Defense of Virginia are well reasoned biblical defenses for the view that Blacks are inferior and benefit from the supervision of oversight of Whites, just as children benefit from the supervision and oversight of their parents. Vanderbilt, and most people with a knowledge of history have no problem acknowleding that the bible lends itself well to the promotion of all manner of repugnant views. And just as they acted to discourage Dabney’s perfectly accurate and faithful read of the bible in an earlier generation they intend to act to discourage the perfectly accurate and faithful reads that lead to heterosexism in this generation. And just as Christianity developed a few decades later to a point where Dabney’s views are more or less universally repudiated the hope is that heterosexist views are similarly repudiated.
As a further aside, this is likely to be a short term. If society is successful after a short transition period right wing Christian views on homosexuality will be seen like Muslim and Jewish views on pigs, as a religious distinctive of little importance. There is no push on campus for rampant pork eaters to be admitted to the Muslim Student Association and that’s mainly as a result of the fact that their views on people who eat pork are so marginal as to not be threatening to campus cohesion. Additionally, Muslim students are somewhat circumspect in their language when they address people who eat pork and don’t fully express how engaging in eating swine is a sign of a profound degeneration of the mind, spirit, soul and body. Were Muslims regularly attacking pork eaters in those terms and moreover talking about how pork eaters were a threat to the well being of society they would likely be seen in a much more negative light. If they could command the adherence of a substantial (though rapidly declining) percentage of students in those views while pork eating still remained a regular activity of some students they would be unquestionably high divisive and the University would be remiss in not trying to tone things down.
You need to use your first and last name when you comment. No pseudonyms. Thanks.
Your second sentence says, “They don’t mention gays but I think that’s who we are talking about.” This clearly shows you didn’t even watch the whole video. Not only did they mention gays, but they included a gay man who spoke against the policy too. Why? Because it would mean that gay groups would have to admit non-gays to their groups.
I’m not sure how much Denny wants this on his blog so a quick warning the rest of this paragraph is PG-13. College gay groups that are dating oriented often have bi-curious members. 19 year olds are growing into their sexual tastes. The 44 year old men that are happily married but frequent gay prostitutes or have affairs with gay men didn’t become that way in middle age. A quarter century earlier young men who feel straight, have girlfriends but keep having these powerful fantasies…
Most gay support groups have straight members, who do a lot in terms of activism. Often they have close family members who are gay and they want to honor them by participating in the struggle or helping in other ways that they can.
As an aside I went to a college that had a similar rule which required student associations that got school funding to be open to all students. The rule was applied during my 4 years to two groups to open them: The Elvis Presley Fan Club, and an Ultimate Frisbee Team. I don’t remember this as being particularly horrible repercussions. On the other hand, the bonus was that student groups aimed for outreach. So the best two dances every year which were widely attended were thrown by the Bisexual Lesbian and Gay Association and the International Student Association. And the fact that those events were open helped to build a warmer college experience. I love the fact the fact I was at those events having a good time and both those associations were engaged in openness and outreach.
I’m not going to deny these rules are potentially onerous, to groups like the above. I’m not going to deny that these rules may have the effect of diminishing freedoms, they could though as I mentioned my experience was rather positive. They exist because colleges are being confronted with a much more serious problem when groups become exclusive. If Christians treated homosexuality like any other sin:
Andy regularly breaks the speed limits to much but can still be treasurer.
Beth struggles with envy of other women’s possessions and looks but can still be vice president.
Charlie is grossly overweight and has trouble not over eating but is still welcomed to be president
and Darla who has sex with other women but is still welcomed to serve as secretary
this rule wouldn’t be needed. But instead Andy, Beth and Charlie are fine but Darla is expelled and publicly humiliated to make an example of so that everyone knows that people like her are particularly noxious. Vanderbilt is decided that this sort of harassment is something they don’t want to finance indirectly.
And I agree with the video these rules could very easily be problems like Democrats taking over the Republican club. Which means the group disbands and forms under a slightly different name but now on a broadly tolerant campus.
I am a member of “The Chapel on the Campus” – that campus being Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!). It makes you wonder if they will start to implement policies like this to actual churches located on campus – not just student organizations.
P.S. We are not the only church located on campus. There is a Roman Catholic church, Episcopalian, United Methodist, Presbyterian churches. There are also buildings that belong to religious groups that are not churches (ministry wings of the Baptists and Mormons).
Please note that the PCA campus ministry still operates on the Vanderbuilt campus. Its charter states that the ministry leader is an ordained PCA minister. Group members must now be allowed to join regardless of their stated beliefs; however, the campus minister will remain PCA ordained and interns will be commissioned by the PCA to serve, because of the ecclessiology practices specific to prebyterians. Bible studies and teaching are done by the ordained leaders.
something baptistic brethern may wish to consider…