James Madison must be exhausted. The poor guy just can’t catch a break – with all of the government interference in religion (the faith-based initiative-turned-partnership) and religious interference in politics (Propositions 8, 102 and 2), he’s probably been rolling over in his grave nonstop for years.
The latest offense against religious freedom is Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University deciding to kick its chapter of College Democrats off-campus, a decision they announced late last week.
Usually when you hear about a student organization getting kicked off-campus, it’s a Greek that’s had its charter revoked for hazing. At Liberty, it’s apparently the desire for two-sided political discourse that will get you asked to leave.
Liberty University, which shares the conservative Christian views of its founder, Jerry Falwell, didn’t approve the presence of any student group affiliated with the Democratic Party (although College Republicans has been a presence on campus for some time) until this past October, when they recognized a chapter of College Democrats. Recognition was granted on the condition that its members would support neither gay marriage nor abortion – two issues that are major no-nos at Liberty.
The students say they’ve held up their end of the bargain. Unfortunately, Liberty’s powers-that-be have decided that endorsing candidates – something the College Republicans also practice and is in the College Democrats’ constitution, which its president, Brian Diaz, says was approved by the university – who “clearly promoted abortion” violates their agreement, and have revoked their recognition of the student organization.
Legally, Liberty has done nothing wrong. They’re a private institution, and as such they can make whatever decisions they want about student organizations.
But (and let me just insert here that I would be making the same argument if this were a liberal college denying its students a College Republicans chapter) one of the purposes of a college education is to teach you to discuss things – important things, big things, change-the-world things – with your peers. Those who agree with you, and those who don’t. In the real world, your peers aren’t limited to far-right conservatives who vehemently oppose both a woman’s right to choose and the (future, I hope) right of any couple to be married by the government. In the real world, you have to learn how to express your opinion, your reasoning for believing as you do and your rationale for disagreeing with “the opposition” – and be civil about it. (Not to mention that in the ivory tower of academia, rational discourse and the exchange of ideas are supposed to be sacred.)
Liberty has a perfect right to do what they did – but choosing to do so shows their poor sportsmanship, small-mindedness and fear of anything beyond the extremely limited scope of their definition of the norm.