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  • Vanderbilt's "Tolerance" Policy Forces Christian Groups off Campus

    One of Vanderbilt University’s largest Christian student organizations has announced it will formally break ties with the Tennessee school, becoming the latest victim of the college’s intolerant policy on student club leadership.

    Vanderbilt Catholic announced last week that is it unable to comply with the school’s new nondiscrimination policy that prohibits student groups from maintaining belief or faith-based qualifications for leadership positions.

    “The Administration is forcing religious groups to open leadership positions to all students, regardless of whether or not they practice the religion or even know anything about it,” Father John Sims Baker, chaplain of the 500-member Catholic group, explained.

    Vanderbilt updated the school’s nondiscrimination policy at the beginning of March, applying what administrators call an “all-comers” policy to student groups. The policy states: “Registered student organizations must be open to all students as members and must permit all members in good standing to seek leadership posts.”

    Vanderbilt Catholic’s leadership has explained that the organization allows any student to become a member but requires those in leadership to share the group’s beliefs.

    Any student group wishing to remain affiliated with Vanderbilt during the next school year is required to sign an agreement to abide by the new nondiscrimination policy and submit group bylaws that ensure inclusion of any student wishing to become a member or leader.

    In a letter to its members announcing that the group will move off campus for the next school year, Vanderbilt Catholic’s student board wrote:

    After much reflection, discussion, and prayer, we have decided that Vanderbilt Catholic cannot in good conscience affirm that we comply with this policy.… We are a faith-based organization. A Catholic student organization led by someone who neither professes the Catholic faith nor strives to live it out would not be able to serve its members as an authentically Catholic organization. We cannot sign the affirmation form and remain [a registered student organization] because to do so would be to lie to the university and to ourselves about who we are as an organization.

    Vanderbilt Catholic joins four other evangelical student groups who are unable to abide by the new policy in good conscience, relinquishing their official status with the school and losing the use of school facilities for meetings. The Christian Legal Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Upsilon Chi, and Graduate Student Fellowship will also make plans to leave campus.

    “While eliminating this freedom of association, you’re effectively eliminating free speech,” explained one student at a three-hour January town-hall meeting with Vanderbilt administrators. “While, as a private institution, you may be able to do so, how can you justify that?”

    The administrators’ responses devolved into comparing Christian student groups opposed to the policy to segregationists. They tried to defend the policy as increasing diversity of viewpoints, but with some of the largest student organizations forced to leave school grounds, the university’s policy may have the opposite effect.

    “Our fear is that we’ve gone full circle,” stated a student at the same town hall. “Instead of now protect diversity, we’ve come around to the point where we’re infringing on diversity, we’re infringing on the diversity specifically of religious organizations.”

    Yet the administrators remain unmoved. Facing the difficult choice between denying their beliefs and obeying the administration’s restrictive policy or leaving campus, many students of affected organizations are united in their opposition to the policy.

    As Father Baker stated, “It has become quite clear to the students that we either stand for something or fall for anything.”

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Vanderbilt's "Tolerance" Policy Forces Christian Groups off Campus

    1. Joe Gause says:

      Just another example of political correctness carried to an extreme. Recognizing and respecting individuals of diverse backgrounds is a good goal. Forcing an organization, whose members have voluntarily joined into an association, to disavow a common sense rule that it leaders share common beliefs with the main tenets of the organization, is a form of tyranny. The student body should conduct a poll to render to the university administrators a public student body censor.

    2. Joe Gause says:

      Intolerance in the name of diversity: Realspeak.

    3. Stirling says:

      Tollerance is now a perverted word for "Silencing" free speach, as is Political Correctness, and diversity.. anyone say Mao, Stalin, or Hitler here when it comes to policies that knucle under our countries founding priciples, and beliefs. For all who don't know what liberal progressives are, what is happening to the country currently is just that. Cleansing, Sanitizing, and obliteration of all that makes this country unique.

    4. John says:

      The dogma of the 20th and 21st centuries is relativism. Almost no one believes in or cares about absolute truth, and certainly not the Scriptures, especially our wise and learned professors at these esteemed universities.

    5. Deloris says:

      Does the university's nondiscrimination policy nullify the "rush" and "invitation only" process for membership in the social fraternities and sororities affiliated with the university? I am pretty sure all students may participate in rush, but membership is only for the "selected" which meet the sorority or fraternity standards of membership. As a southerner, I know those "standards" can be very discriminatory in southern universities, perhaps not along racial or religious lines, but very much so along social lines. Faith based organizations are not afforded the same right to determine their own standards of membership and leadership on the Vanderbilt campus. Moving off campus is the right thing to do to expose the religious intolerance of the university. I hope parents and students of faith will recognize and consider Vanderbilt's religious intolerance as they make their choices for a higher education.

    6. Bobbie says:

      Can someone find out who, where and why "political correctness" came in so we know who weakened all people of this country making their weakness prominent in America's government? The intolerant are challenging all intolerances on the tolerant just to show how pathetic intolerance is and because they can just for poohs and laughs! The supporters and administration of Obama's government are all Intentional burdens of infringement, costs and waste of other peoples' productive time and business!

    7. Walt Walker says:

      I was sitting a Vanderbilt ball game a few weeks ago and thought to myself, "What am I doing here? I can no longer support this university."

      I am now reading Bonhoeffer by Eric Mataxas. Lot of similarities. The Eagle, a campus group to which Dietrich Bonhoeffer belonged as a student complied with pressure from the Nazis to sign a pledge as did most of the churches in Germany. The pledge basically undermined their ability to functional as an authentically Christian church.

      While the pledge being force on campus groups by Vanderbilt is not about national socialism or the "Arian clause", it no less forces Christian groups to compromise their faith in another direction or face expulsion.

      So horrah! for the Christian Legal Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Upsilon Chi, Graduate Student Fellowship, and the Catholics! To the other Christian groups who decide to remain affiliated with Vanderbilt under those stipulations, decide who you are and be that.

      Student groups and leaders should answer Vanderbilt University like Martin Luther: ""Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

      Let's have a underground Christian movement at Vanderbilt with a greater than ever sense of unity around the historic Christian faith.

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