The Story: According to the Christian Post, a Christian student group at Vanderbilt University has been told by the school’s administration that it will lose its recognized status on campus unless the group removes its requirement that its leaders have a “personal commitment to Jesus Christ.”
The Background: The Christian Legal Society says that a recent email from the university’s administration stated the Christian group’s application to keep its recognition was deficient because the group’s constitution states the following:
Criteria for officer selection will include level and quality of past involvement, personal commitment to Jesus Christ, commitment to the organization, and demonstrated leadership ability.
In order to retain recognition, the group was told it must eliminate the sentence requiring that leaders have a “personal commitment to Jesus Christ.”
Vanderbilt has previously claimed that the issue was not about religious freedom. As Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at the university, previously told told the Washington Post “This debate is about nondiscrimination, not religious freedom, and we stand behind our policy.”
Why It Matters: “By mandating the elimination of a Christian group’s standard of ‘personal commitment to Jesus Christ,’ Vanderbilt requires students to abandon their religious integrity and undermines their religious freedoms,” says the Christian Legal Society. “Leadership is crucial to the direction of any organization. Eliminating the requirement of a commitment to Jesus Christ in leaders takes away the group’s ability to effectively fulfill its purpose and continue its ministry.”