by Krystle Gabele
February 3, 2012
In a recent article on Fox News, Christian student organizations may be forced to meet in secret at Vanderbilt University, as college officials are enforcing a nondiscrimination policy that bans organization leaders from holding specific beliefs.
So far, four Christian organizations on campus have been told by the university that they are in violation of the policy, and they are in danger of losing their registered student group status. This comes after Vanderbilt University conducted an investigation of a Christian fraternity, Beta Upsilon Chi, and found the organization discriminated against a student based on sexual orientation. Additionally, another group, the Christian Legal Society, was asked to remove Bible verses and the words, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior from their constitution.
The real issue at stake here is religious liberty. Denying an organization the right to worship freely or being able to stand up for what their faith teaches them is wrong, and it is persecution. According to Professor Carol Swain, who advises the Christian Legal Society:
There are people on campus who are very threatened by the idea of religious freedom and they would like to create an environment where no one hurts anyone elses feelings unless its Christians.
What would our founding fathers think of what is happening at Vanderbilt? They would probably think this is a travesty. After all, they fled from the religious persecution in England by coming to America, where they could worship freely without being forced to attend the Kings church.
In fact, when our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, they made certain that religious liberty would be protected in our country. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Bold, emphasis mine)
Vanderbilts decision to ban student religious organizations is a violation of the First Amendment, but it is limiting the groups ability to worship freely, as our founding fathers envisioned.