When Liberty University withdrew recognition from the student-run College Democrats earlier this year, left-leaning organizations quickly lashed out against the fundamental Christian school, accusing it of banning the club and saying that a person couldn't be a Christian and a Democrat.
Since then, such false reports were corrected and a new policy was instituted by the university to regulate political student clubs, thus giving the College Democrats the opportunity to operate without hindrance once again when the new school year begins next month.
"The willingness of the administration to work with our student club has been fantastic," College Democrats secretary Jan Dervish told the school newspaper following weeks of talks with school officials.
Even Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) acknowledged the new policy as a "big step in the right direction," though the left-leaning watchdog group remains at-arms when it comes to the Lynchburg, Va.-based school.
Both AU and LU have asked the IRS to investigate one another, alleging that the other is partisan in nature and thus violating its tax-exempt status.
"AU intends to keep a close eye on the Liberty chancellor (Jerry Falwell Jr.), and his brother, Jonathan, who runs the TV ministry, just to make sure they stay on the right side of the law," AU's assistant director of communications, Rob Boston, wrote last month.
But the group will not likely find fuel in LU's new club policy, which was welcomed by the College Democrats as well as the College Republicans.
Though the latter group did question the principal of the policy, which effectively downgrades its status from "recognized" to "unofficial," its leaders continued to express "fully loyalty to the mission of Liberty University and great affection for the University itself, its history and future."
"Regardless of our status ... the College Republicans will do their best to share our vision and call our fellow students to actively engage in the political process," club chairman Caleb Mast told The Christian Post.
And while the College Democrats will still not be able reserve meeting spaces until the new school year begins on Aug. 15, Dervish told The Christian Post, "It's really a non-issue."
"To be honest, neither the College Republicans nor the College Democrats do much of anything over the summer (as a group)," he said. "Most of our members are spread out all over for summer break."
Still, AU leaders say they intend to keep an eye on LU and see how the new policy plays out.
"The one thing we've learned over the years about the Falwells is that they don't always keep their word. They are quite capable of saying one thing and doing another, so we'll remain on alert," commented Boston.
As a self-described nonpartisan organization, AU regularly monitors the agenda and activities of the "Religious Right," which it describes as "the single greatest threat to church-state separation in America."
Groups listed by AU as part of "this religio-political crusade" include Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the American Family Association (AFA), the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN), Concerned Women for America (CWA), Family Research Council (FRC), Focus on the Family, and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – the largest Protestant denomination in America.
According to AU, organizations and leaders representing the Religious Right seek to impose a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint on all Americans through government action.