Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Religious Suppression Claimed At Vanderbilt

After reading a couple of online articles in The Tennessean and then another report on Fox it seems that this is not much ado about nothing.

According to Fox: 
Is Vanderbilt University flirting with the suppression of religion? Yes, according to Carol Swain, a professor at Vanderbilt’s Law School. Specifically, Swain is referring to four Christian student groups being placed on "provisional status" after a university review found them to be in non-compliance with the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Vanderbilt says the student organizations cannot require that leaders share the group’s beliefs, goals and values. Carried to its full extent, it means an atheist could lead a Christian group, a man a woman’s group, a Jew a Muslim group or vice versa.  To read more, click here.

According to The Tennessean:
Vanderbilt has asked “a dozen or so” student groups, including five religious ones, to come into compliance with the policy, which says the Nashville school doesn’t discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Those groups, which the university declined to identify, have been given provisional status for the time being but could ultimately lose access to Vanderbilt funding and facilities if they don’t comply.

“We are committed to making our campus a welcoming environment for all of our students,” Vanderbilt said in a statement after declining to make administrators available for interviews Monday. But members and advisers of some of the groups said they were being unfairly singled out for expecting their officers to hold certain beliefs. The Vanderbilt chapter of the Christian Legal Society has rewritten its bylaws to include language that supports the university’s diversity policies. But when Vanderbilt asked the club to remove a requirement that the group president lead Bible studies, the club drew the line.  To read more, click here.

And more from The Tennessean:

Groups affected included the Christian Legal Society, InterVarsity and the graduate chapter of Campus Crusade. These organizations face an uncertain future because of a new policy that prohibits religious organizations from requiring that their leaders share the same beliefs and goals of the organizations they seek to lead. The policy goes one step further by hamstringing Bible studies.
According to a letter from the acting director of the Office of Religious Life, Bible studies are suspect because they “would seem to indicate that officers are expected to hold certain beliefs.’’ The letter goes on to explain: “Vanderbilt policies do not allow this expectation/qualification for officers.’’
If this policy is implemented, it will make it harder for the students to have on-campus fellowship with like-minded believers and it will make it more difficult for them to grow in or even maintain their faith while on campus. The policy sends a clear message to students: religious associations are not a valued or respected part of the university’s ideological diversity.  To read more, click here.

Universities and colleges around the country are increasingly seeking to impose secular ideology upon religious organizations under the guise of political correctness.  This is pseudo liberalism and it is threatening the whole fabric of education.  What ever happened to the free exchange of ideas?  Could it be that only certain ideas are to be tolerated?

Wanna mix it up even more???  Vanderbilt is home to Vanderbilt Divinity School -- a highly acclaimed and thoroughly liberal seminary and school of religion.  Naturally, Vanderbilt officials refused to be interviewed or questioned.  So when you put it all together, it seems that we are left with one conclusion.  Religion is good if it serves the liberal purpose and it is bad if it does not.  Therefore, religious freedom cannot be allowed if it conflicts with other freedoms that have first priority.  I wonder if this is what you learn at Vanderbilt Divinity School?  For what it is worthy, a pretty conservative Lutheran went to Vanderbilt -- namely, Concordia Theological Seminary President Larry Rast!  Of course this was long before the current dust up.  I have no doubt that Vanderbilt is a highly rated and liberal flagship school.  It ranks consistently on the upper tiers of college ratings by all sorts of magazines and reviews.  My only question is whether or not you can go to Vanderbilt and remain a Christian while you are there...  Just a cynical thought from a fellow who lives 40 minutes up the road from the campus....


Paul said...

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) gives Vanderbilt a "red light" rating - defined as having at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.

Chris Jones said...

I think it is worth noting that this is a restriction placed on student groups which are, to some extent, supported by the University. That is, they either receive funding from the University or use University facilities for their activities. In forming Christian student groups, the students have the right to believe and to practice their faith; but they do not have the right to be supported by the University. That is a privilege that the University is free to grant or to withhold by its own lights.

Of course, if "by its own lights" means "showing hostility towards the orthodox Christian faith" then orthodox Christians should perhaps think twice before enrolling in such a school. But that does not make it "religious persecution." The University has the right to have, and to inculcate, its own principles.

Thought experiment: should we be surprised if Yeshiva University is unwilling to provide funding and facilities to a Christian student group? If they choose not to support a Christian group, would that not simply be a case of being true to its Jewish character? (For the record, I have no idea whether there are Christian student groups at YU. This is just a thought experiment.)

I don't think the case of a secular University like Vanderbilt is all that different, in principle.

Anonymous said...


They demand that others hear them, then balk at allowing others to speak.

They demand that their depraved student groups be recognized, then they demand that their detractors be denied recognition.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think the case of a secular University like Vanderbilt is all that different, in principle."


It has a divinity school and originally you had to be methodist to be on the faculty.

Chris Jones said...

Vanderbilt has long since ended its affiliation with the Methodist Church (in 1914, according to its website) and is effectively secular.

Many universities were originally founded under denominational auspices but have long been secular. Harvard, for example, was originally founded to train men for the ministry of the established Congregational Church of the Massachusetts Bay colony. That does not mean that Harvard today is anything but a secular institution. Most of the Ivy League schools were also founded with denominational affiliation: Columbia (Anglican), Princeton (Presbyterian), Brown (Baptist), Yale (Congregationalist), Dartmouth (Congregationalist). All of these schools are secular today.

Nor does the fact that a university has a Divinity School indicate that the university as a whole is not secular. In addition to Vanderbilt, Harvard and Yale also have non-denominational Divinity Schools. That does not compromise the secular character of the universities as a whole.

Anonymous said...

College classrooms are where the
rubber hits the road, not student
activity groups. Professors today
are teaching that there is no
absolute truth, and everything is
relative. This type of approach
is aimed at Christianity and Christ
who says "I am the Way, the Truth,
and the Life." LCMS parents complain
that their children at state colleges
are belittled for their faith and
values as Christians.

Yet we know that Christianity will
always be persecuted by the world
and the intellectual elite.

Anonymous said...

"Many universities were originally founded under denominational auspices but have long been secular."

I was hoping you would bring that up.

Interesting isn't it that the founders know what is important and wish is to continue, but as soon as there is success, the devil runs out front and pretends he has always been the leader. Hence to the cycle where good leads to success, success to depravity, depravity to failure and then we have to start over.

Whatever happened to the free exchange of ideas that universities were supposed to foster?

Irenaeus said...

Oh my, goodness! You mean that Christians are now being persecuted by university policies, governments, and other systems of the world? Man, I thought that when Jesus said such would happen, He was just speaking metaphorically... Quick, someone call Constantine! He won't stand for it; he'll make it all better...

Anonymous said...


The situation at Vanderbilt is not unique. It is happening at every public university throughout the country. Only expressions of liberal Christianity will be tolerated on college campuses. WE are truly living in the end times.

As soon as the CLC is evicted from its church home near the University of Minnesota, where will the congregation go? Understand that if the CLC attempts to use public university facilities, it would be forced to adhere to the same ELCA-style "diversity" policies seen at Vanderbilt.