Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vanderbilt University’s Assault on Religious Organizations: Secularism with the Gloves Off

Like most of America’s historic private universities, Vanderbilt University was founded by Christian believers for the purpose of inculcating Christian beliefs in its students. Vanderbilt was founded in the 1870s by Methodists and later funded largely by New York’s Vanderbilt family. Within a remarkably short period of years, Vanderbilt had forfeited its conservative Methodist roots in order to identify with the emerging secular consensus in American higher education.

As Notre Dame’s James Tunstead Burtchaell explained, Vanderbilt serves as a case study in the secularization of American higher education — a process Burtchaell described as the “disengagement of colleges and universities from their Christian churches.” Just a few decades after its founding, Vanderbilt had transformed itself into a secular university, embarrassed by its Christian founding. As Burtchaell made clear, this was not due to demands for secularization from outside the university. It was accomplished under the direction of liberal Protestants who desperately wanted to identify with the secular elites.

Well, if that was Vanderbilt’s goal, the university has been stunningly successful. It is unlikely that many of Vanderbilt’s students and faculty know anything of the university’s Christian history. If they do, it would be cause for further embarrassment, mixed with relief that the university is now safely in liberal and secular hands.

In more recent months, Vanderbilt’s administration decided to push secularism to the extreme — launching a virtual vendetta against religious organizations on campus. Officials of the university informed religious groups that had been recognized student organizations that they would have to comply with an absolute non-discrimination policy. This means that religious organizations (primarily Christian) must now allow any Vanderbilt student to be a candidate for a leadership office, regardless of religious beliefs or sexual orientation. In other words, a Christian student group would be forced to allow the candidacy of an atheist. A group of Christians who believe in the Bible’s standard of sexual morality would be required to allow the candidacy of a homosexual member. There can be absolutely no discrimination, the university insists, even if that means that Christian organizations are no longer actually Christian.

In reality, that is the aim. The university is embarrassed again — this time by the mere presence of Christian organizations on its campus. It will deal with that embarrassment by eliminating the right of Christian organizations to operate on Christian principles. It will impose its own Stalinist definition of tolerance and freedom and deny the right of Christian students to participate in recognized campus organizations that can remain authentically Christian.

The provost of the university recently defended the policy, stating that student organizations may elect their own leaders, but may not disqualify any candidate based on, among other things, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

Last week, the largest Roman Catholic student organization, Vanderbilt Catholic, announced that it will leave the university. In an open letter explaining their decision, the group stated:

“As Catholics we believe that faith in Jesus Christ and the truths that He has revealed to us through the Catholic Church are fundamental to our identity as Catholics and our mission in this life. Likewise, as a Catholic student organization, Catholic faith and practice precede all else that we do. We are an open and welcoming community that people of all faiths can join, but we require our leaders to share this Catholic faith and practice. A student group led by those who do not share these things might be a very worthwhile and beneficial organization, but it would not be Catholic in the fullest sense of the word. These faith-based requirements for leadership are as important to the integrity of our organization as musical range is for a choral group.”

Will evangelical Christian organizations reach a similar decision? The next few weeks will reveal the answer to that question. In the meantime, leaders of those evangelical groups should look to the Vanderbilt Catholic statement as an example of courage, candor, and specificity.

Leaders of Vanderbilt University, on the other hand, should be equally honest as they explain their draconian policy. The issue is not really tolerance. If so, the university would have to deal with the most intolerant and exclusivist organizations on campus –the recognized fraternities and sororities. As David French of National Review has argued, those recognized student organizations are allowed to discriminate on any ground at all, including appearance and wealth.

As French stated:

“The reality, of course, is that Vanderbilt is trying to force the orthodox Christian viewpoint off campus. The ‘nondiscrimination’ rhetoric is mere subterfuge. How can we know this? Because even as it works mightily to make sure that atheists can run Christian organizations, it is working just as mightily to protect the place and prerogatives of Vanderbilt’s powerful fraternities and sororities — organizations that explicitly discriminate, have never been open to ‘all comers,’ and cause more real heartache each semester for rejected students than any religious organization has ever inflicted in its entire history on campus. Vanderbilt’s embattled religious organizations welcome all students with open arms; Vanderbilt’s fraternities and sororities routinely reject their fellow students based on little more than appearance, family heritage, or personality quirks.”

David French’s most important point is his first — that Vanderbilt’s real agenda is to force any orthodox Christian viewpoint off campus.

What we see at Vanderbilt University is secularism with its gloves off. In the name of tolerance, it will not tolerate orthodox Christian conviction. The university now comes full circle and forces off campus the only organizations that hold to the Christian beliefs of the school’s founders. Look carefully at Vanderbilt’s intolerance. Be assured that it is coming soon to a campus near you. Source


PrinceVlad said...

Another proof of how complacent god is towards his followers.

otto said...

First, Your use of the word "complacent" is ambiguous and can mean one of two things. Either way, you seem to mock the Church.

Second, The Kingdom of God is not of this world, cf. John 18.

Third, I can be sure of God's "complacency" with His people because of Jesus' atonement and finished work on the cross. My assurance lies in the Fathers complacency with His Son.

Fourth, Your "proof" is a great parallel to the "proofs" used by the Jews and Gentiles in order to mock Jesus as He hung on that tree in Calvary:

Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!" Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. . . . Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. . . . And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, "save Yourself, and come down from the cross!" Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save."Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him. Mark 15:16-20, 25, 26, 29-32

otto said...

I can envision the people of Jerusalem sneering, "Did you hear that Annas? Jesus just said 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.' Whoa Caiaphas, Yet another proof of how complacent the Father is with His Son! Good one Annas! Good one!"

PrinceVlad said...

What I meant by complacent is from the way the world of today is I cannot understand how god is aware of the situation. Everyday people mock him, and do not believe in him, and in the end no matter how one puts it no one can be the perfect Christian and live according to the law because of the flaw of human nature.

The kingdom of heave is definetly not of this world. It is a carrot in from of the believers, something to keep them in line of a promise, but something that almost all of us will never see. But the main thing is that if this kingdom is so great, if god's power is so great than why must the believers have to wait and suffer under the evils of secularism? Why not come down now and end it and finally establish god's kingdom? What is he waiting for? For all the so called Christians to finally leave the church and the true ones so marginalized?

And the only response that one can offer that no one can know god's will. The only thing we have to is to wait for the heavenly bread while being mocked at every turn.

otto said...

Ok, so what I am getting is that since unbelievers mock God, He is not "aware" of "the situation" (whatever that is). Or that you aren't aware of how God is aware? My friend, God is aware of everything and if you read the Scriptures you would know how.

I guess you did not get the very obvious hint about people mocking Christ while He hung on the cross. I guess God was not aware at that time, either?

And of course no one can be "the perfect Christian," praise and magnify God a million times over for that! We are made perfect in Jesus, not of our own righteousness, but of Him who was made sin for us.

Maybe if you let go of this Armenian Orthodox baggage you would have an easier time understanding? Human nature is not just "flawed."

And I disagree completely. You keep using pronouns like "us" and "me," but Scripture says all those who believe are saved and will see the Kingdom of God, so again, you need to read the Scriptures and understand what the biblical message is, and you need to stop using such pronouns if you don't consider yourself a Christian.

Further, believers Rejoice in suffering! Praise God for suffering! I would rather have nothing else than to experience the true "evils of secularism" for Christ's sake! What an honor! What a glory to God! In fact, it shames me that we have it so so very easy here and yet we make it so very hard!

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance Romans 5

Some fall away, some persevere. As easy as 1, 2, 3. Even a plowboy can get it, but the plowboy has to read the Scriptures first in order to understand, and not simply impose what he "thinks" Christianity is upon Christianity.

I know God's will perfectly, as does every Christian. Its right here, revealed in Scripture. And works are written even on the unbelieving hearts, either accusing or excusing them.