Officials at the University of North Carolina (UNC) have launched an anti-discrimination investigation against a Christian a capella group for voting in favor of removing an openly gay member.
The student group, Psalm 100, was founded on core biblical principles. When its members discovered that William Thomason, a UNC senior, disagreed with the biblical teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality, a vote was held to have the student removed from the group.
Thomason, who is openly gay, insisted that he has nothing against his former Psalm 100 singing mates, but disagrees with their view regarding homosexuality.
“Now, while realizing God can do anything, I also think God can use me, a non-heterosexual individual, to glorify His name," Thomason told the campus newspaper The Daily Tar Heel.
Psalm 100's director, Blake Templeton, told the paper that Thomason was not voted out of the group simply because he is gay.
“It’s really easy in this situation for the focus to be on this one thing - the homosexuality,” he said.
Templeton stressed, “It wasn’t about that." He added that the issue centered on Thomason's disagreement with the group's policy, which holds homosexuality as sinful.
UNC allows student groups to construct its own constitutions based on religious beliefs. However, guidelines also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Our commitment to non-discrimination is bedrock strong but so is our commitment to the First Amendment rights of freedom of association,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp told the student paper. “The non-discrimination policy for student organizations tries very hard to balance those issues.”
If the investigation finds that Psalm 100 violated school policy, the group could lose funding from the Student Congress finance committee.
Psalm 100's decision was unanimous, but the group has been cut down to eight members after two left in protest of the decision to remove Thomason, according to Templeton.
Although Thomason holds no ill will toward his former group members, some of whom he considers close friends, students and members of the general public who oppose Psalm 100's decision have been calling its members "hateful" and "intolerant."
Templeton insists that Psalm 100's decision to vote Thomason out of the group had nothing to do with hate, but everything to do with God's love.
"I want the power of God's love to be...so clear," he told World magazine.