Are You Kidding Me, Vanderbilt?

/dohA while ago I went off on the Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in CLS vs Martinez.

This morning’s news reveals the logical outworking of that silly ruling: Vanderbilt, apparently following the same train of thought, has put several Christian groups on probation for violating the university’s non‐discrimination policy.

Among the groups threatened with shut down is the Christian Legal Society. It ran afoul with this language from its constitution. “Each officer is expected to lead Bible studies, prayer and worship at chapter meetings.” CLS President Justin Gunter told me, “We come together to do things that Christians do together. Pray, and have Bible studies.” To that, Rev. Gretchen Person – interim director of the Office of Religious Life at Vanderbilt – responded “Vanderbilt policies do not allow this expectation/qualification for officers.” (source)

Seriously, Vanderbilt? A Christian group cannot require that its leaders lead Christian activities? One wonders what, precisely, Vanderbilt envisions the leaders of Christian groups doing.

2 thoughts on “Are You Kidding Me, Vanderbilt?”

  1. Glenn, do Christian organizations such as Chi Alpha that minister and reach out to college students receive any funding or pay anything to the college/university they’re located on/near?

    I can understand if a Christian organization is located on property that is owned/operated by the school, and I can understand if the organization receives some funding from the school vis‐a‐vis having to listen to the school, but I don’t think I’ve ever understood how a religious organization can be culpable to a college?

    Is there something saying you cannot advertise your “house” on campus unless you “register” it with the school? I can also understand if you’re using school property to hold particular functions.

    Overall though, I guess I just fail to see how a college can truly prevent any organization from existing and ministering/offering themselves to students.

    Perhaps what we may see in the near future is that if a number of schools start pushing Christian collegiate ministries to change or face “consequences”, that organizations such as Chi Alpha, Wesley, Baptist Student Unions, etc. will have to figure out how to maintain a viable presence on campus while not getting the umbrella of the campus that would allow it greater/easier free speech.

  2. We don’t receive any funding from the university except when we are required to (if we bring in a speaker the university often wants us to submit a request to the student government for funds as a way of demonstrating that students are interested in the event). I would gladly forgo all university funds.

    The biggest issue is being able to reserve rooms. At Stanford, for example, freshmen cannot have cars. And the campus is huge and surrounded by a huge swath of nothing separating us from the nearest town. So unless we are able to reserve rooms on campus it would be very difficult to pursue our mission.

    Which means that maintaining student organization status is very helpful to us.

    But if it went away we’d manage somehow. It would just become annoyingly more difficult.

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