Vanderbilt strips religious student group of recognition for requiring religious commitment for its officers
Via Jonathan Turley, an issue that is a big to-do at this Christian university.
I have previously discussed the collision between anti-discrimination laws and free exercise of religion. Now, Vanderbilt University has stripped a Christian student organization of official recognition (and presumably funding) because it requires its members to have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
On one hand, the move reflects the university’s view that school-supported groups must be open to all students. The Supreme Court in March turned down a similar case.
The group’s constitution stated “Criteria for officer selection will include level and quality of past involvement, personal commitment to Jesus Christ, commitment to the organization, and demonstrated leadership ability.” The group was reportedly not approved because the university took issue with a requirement that leaders have a “personal commitment to Jesus Christ.” They were told to remove the requirement, which would seem a reasonable expectation for members.
University Provost Richard McCarty insisted that it was merely “rejecting discrimination and not . . . restricting religious freedom.”
Turley goes on to ask a logical question – if all students are allowed into a student group, is it unreasonable to limit the officers in that group to those who subscribe to those faith-based beliefs of the group? If so, what if another group decided to use race or gender requirements for those officer positions? Discuss.