Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vanderbilt and Religion

[T]oday, Vanderbilt officials are restricting the liberty of the very sorts of religious folks who not only founded the school but whose followers led many of the nondiscrimination battles of 19th-century higher education.

-from a column by John Murray on May 10 in the WSJ on Vanderbilt's "decision to stop recognizing campus religious organizations that require their leaders to accept certain religious beliefs on which they are founded. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Vanderbilt Catholic, Navigators and other groups—ministering to about 1,500 students—would effectively be moved off campus in the name of 'nondiscrimination.'"

The column also reports that the Tennessee legislature has voted to withdraw the state's $29 million annual support of the school, an action that the Republican governor, Bill Haslam, promises to veto, because it is, he states, "inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution."  I'm not at all sure that the governor has it right. 

What may be inappropriate is for the state to give private institutions any subsidies at all, but that issue is way past reopening.

Murray's thesis is that this action will strengthen the cause of Christ and weaken the school.  Repression has often failed to work on Christianity, a striking example in the last 100 years (maybe the last 500 years) being its suppression by the Chinese Communists after WW II.

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