Recently, Vanderbilt University placed five longtime extracurricular religious groups on "provisional status" — jeopardizing their continued role on campus — because these groups required their leaders to share the groups' core religious beliefs. In so doing, the University abandoned its long tradition of religious tolerance, forcing the groups into adopting moral viewpoints contrary to thousands of years of Judeo-Christian teaching.
This new policy of religious intolerance is being justified in the name of "diversity."
Prior to the change — which took effect May 2011 — the University's Equal Opportunity policy stated,
Vanderbilt University is committed to the principle of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or the perception of one's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. In affirming its commitment to this principle, the University does not limit freedom of religious association. (emphasis added).
The new policy omits any mention of Vanderbilt's former policy of allowing freedom of religious association — emphasizing instead the importance of "genetic information" and a policy of not discriminating "against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression." This policy change is a direct assault on the First Amendment rights of association and religious expression of Vanderbilt students.
Many Vanderbilt alumni are puzzled as to why VU would drop its longstanding protection of religious freedom.
Vanderbilt was founded in 1873 by Bishop Holland McTyeire of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and was soon named after Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was persuaded by his second wife, Fran Crawford Vanderbilt, a her cousin of Bishop McTyeire, to give the bishop $1 million to help endow the school.
Now the school holds the distinction of being the only university in the U.S. to strip its religious campus organizations of their right to act on their core beliefs — imposing VU-approved versions of every religion on campus, effectively forcing campus religious groups to shut down.
At Commodore Vanderbilt's funeral, he was portrayed as a "man who had true repentance to God, [who] had a singularly childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and [who] yielded Him such faith and trust during all his life." Today, the school which bears his name is persecuting those who would seek to do the same.
If you are as incensed as we are, join us in fighting this absurd turnabout at Vanderbilt University that threatens to set a precedent for persecuting religious groups on college campuses across America.
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