by the Contributing Editors of SBC Today
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Religious Discrimination at Vanderbilt, Part 4:
Why Is the Vanderbilt Administration
Ignoring Nationwide Appeals to
Reconsider Its Religious Discrimination Policy?
Dr. Steve Lemke is Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and McFarland Chair of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and the Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.
This is the fourth of a four-part series on the religious liberty crisis at Vanderbilt University. The previous articles are —
Breaking News — Vanderbilt University is now targeting the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on the Vanderbilt campus. The Vanderbilt BCM has been told if they even require that their leaders have “faith,” then it is discriminatory. See the story in Baptist Press. We plead with all Baptists and Christians to stand up against the Vanderbilt administration’s discrimination against Christians.
In the first article of this series, we recounted how Vanderbilt University is denying its students their First Amendment Rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of association by forcing Christian campus organizations off-campus unless they remove from their constitutions all Christian beliefs or requirements for group leaders to hold Christian beliefs. Vanderbilt also denied requirements that leaders of Christian groups be expected to lead in Bible studies, prayer, or worship experiences. Christian groups had to make themselves completely vulnerable to hostile takeovers by anti-Christian groups to retain their registered student group status on the Vanderbilt campus. The second article detailed why these new policies at Vanderbilt violate the First Amendment rights of their students, and the third article enumerated five areas that the Vanderbilt administration has misrepresented these new rules to the public.
The protests of the student groups against this new policy were detailed in each of these articles. What has been the response of Christian leaders around the country? With one voice, Christians from a wide array of denominations and perspectives have protested the new policy at Vanderbilt and called for removing it:
“Religious student groups form around specific beliefs. Selecting leaders that best represent a student organization’s mission is not discrimination; it is common sense. Religious groups must be allowed to select leaders that share the group’s core religious beliefs in order to maintain their religious identities and carry out their primary functions.”
Vanderbilt University is now targeting the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on the Vanderbilt campus. The Vanderbilt BCM has been told if they even require that their leaders have “faith,” then it is discriminatory. See the story in Baptist Press. We plead with all Baptists and Christians to stand up against the Vanderbilt administration’s discrimination against Christians.