The Liberty University College Democrats are no longer being recognized by their school due to the stance of their "parent organization" and the political candidates they support.
“We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by Liberty University,” LU Student Affairs VP Mark Hine informed the group in a recent e-mail.
“Even though this club may not support the more radical planks of the democratic party, the democratic party is still the parent organization of the club on campus,” he added.
Though they were formed last October, the College Democrats were able to keep their ties to Liberty University due to their explicitly stated pro-life and pro-traditional marriage stance and the loose governing of LU's clubs and organizations.
But the group likely raised eyebrows when they actively promoted President Barack Obama during his campaign and became more involved with the Democratic Committee of Lynchburg, Va., where the fundamentalist Christian school is based.
Right before the College Democrats were notified of their rejection, a new policy on club governance was completed, adopted, and made effective by the Liberty University School of Law.
The new policy, which Hine said the College Democrats did not comply with, states: “No student club or organization shall be approved, recognized or permitted to meet on campus, advertise, distribute or post materials, or use University facilities if the statements, positions, doctrines, policies, constitutions, bylaws, platforms, activities or events of such club or organization, its parent, affiliate, chapter or similarly named group (even if the similarly named group is not the actual parent, affiliate or chapter) are inconsistent or in conflict with the distinctly Christian mission of the University, the Liberty Way, the Honor Code, or the policies and procedures promulgated by the University."
For the College Democrats, Hine made clear that the Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of the school and to Christian doctrine as it “supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the 'LGBT' agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.”
“The candidates this club supports uphold the Platform and implement it,” he added.
As a consequence, Liberty University planned to remove the club from the Liberty website and insisted that the group cease its usage of Liberty University's name, including any school logo, seal or mark.
“By using LU or Liberty University and Democrat in the name, the two are associated and the goals of both run in opposite directions,” Hine explained.
According to the Washington Post, Maria Childress, the club's adviser and an administrative assistant at the school, is trying to appeal the decision to Jerry Falwell Jr., who became the Lynchburg school's chancellor after his father died in 2007.
On Thursday, however, Falwell said the club “still has the right to exist” and can still meet in certain rooms on campus but cannot use the school's name in its activities.
“There is absolutely no animosity at all toward any of these kids,” he said in his first public comments on the group’s suspension.
“They are good, Christian kids who sit with me at ball games,” he added, according to the Lynchburg News Advance. “I just hope they find a pro-life family organization to affiliate with so they can be endorsed by Liberty again.“
On the College Democrats' Facebook page, the group says its mission is to educate fellow peers about the Democratic party and the principles the party stands for.
"A College Democrat organization is needed on the Liberty University campus to promote the values of: tolerance, equal opportunity for all, and a commitment to social justice," they state.
"We hope to spread the message of the Democratic party in hopes to educate the Liberty campus about political issues that are not of a conservative bias," they conclude.
Founded in 1971 by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty University touts itself as the largest and fastest growing Christian Evangelical university in the world.