They will no longer be recognized as valid student organizations. Vanderbilt’s reason is that such groups require that their leaders be Christian–that is, that their leaders embrace certain core principles of Christianity and try to live according to these principles.
In Vanderbilt’s view, religious beliefs and standards “discriminate” against those students who do not subscribe to them. Therefore, student religious groups with religious beliefs and standards are banned.
The situation would be unbelievable–were it not true. The issue came to a head this year when a student group at Vanderbilt Law School, the Christian Legal Society, submitted its “constitution” to the university.
The constitution provided that the group’s leaders should believe in the Bible and in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior; that they should be willing to lead members in worship, prayer, and Bible study; and that they should “strive to exemplify Christ-like qualities.” Vanderbilt’s Director of Religious Life, Reverend Gretchen Person, replied that such views were forbidden. Vanderbilt’s policies “do not allow” religious groups to have such an “expectation/qualification of officers,” she wrote.
Last week, the administration officially declared the policy that Vanderbilt will exclude student religious groups that “impose faith-based or belief-based requirements for membership or leadership.”
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