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Vanderbilt Students Launch Campaign to Protect Religious Freedom on Campus

April 18, 2012|4:36 pm

In their continued fight for religious freedom, Christian students at Vanderbilt University have organized a video campaign highlighting their concern for the university's new policy barring religious groups from selecting members and leaders based on faith requirements -- a policy they say discriminates against Christians.

The nearly seven-minute video features several university students, alumni, and sponsors speaking on their rights to freely express their religious association, and the importance of electing religious leaders to the university's student run organizations.

The video also claims that there is a disparity in university requirements for Greek organizations and religious organizations, as the university allows Greek organization to "discriminate" for leadership and membership positions.

"I'm concerned now that because of Vanderbilt's actions, they indeed are now, in my opinion, discriminating against Christian organizations," Bill Campbell, former Head of Admissions at Vanderbilt, says in the video.

"A belief that isn't followed, or a belief that doesn't matter to your actions, really isn't a belief at all," one student suggests.

The video, titled "Leadership Matters for Religious Organizations," was created in protest to the university's Jan. 2012 implementation of the "all-comers" policy, which forbids student from maintaining belief-based requirements for leadership and membership positions within their organizations.

"If we really are an organization with religious beliefs, it's not only important but necessary that our leaders share those beliefs," says one student featured in the video.

"If we can't ask our leaders to be religious, what's the point of the group?" questions another.

The video also features Vanderbilt alumni, sponsors and students speaking on the importance of religious freedom at the university's private campus, located in Nashville, Tenn.

Students distributed video MP3 players featuring the clip to classes, faculty and staff from 10 locations on the university campus on Wednesday.

They also plan to deliver copies of the video to members of Vanderbilt's Board of Trustees, who are to meet sometime next week.

Students protesting the "all-comers" policy have formed the group Vanderbilt Solidarity, consisting of 11 Christian groups and supported by the Alliance Defense Fund.

The 11 Christian groups that have formed the alliance include Asian American Christian Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cru, Medical Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Graduate Christian Fellowship, Bridges International, Lutheran Student Fellowship, Every Nation Ministries, Beta Upsilon Chi, and Christian Legal Society, according to Inside Vandy, Vanderbilt University's student newspaper.

The 11 groups forming this alliance submitted their individual applications for recognition as university organizations in early April. Each group's constitution specifically features faith requirements for membership and leadership positions.

As Inside Vandy reports, the groups will probably not receive university recognition due to their constitutions' religious requirements, as they go against the "all-comers" policy.

Aside from carrying the Vanderbilt name, university organization status allows student-run groups to receive funding, use university facilities, and be represented in student government, according to Vanderbilt University's 2011-2012 handbook.

University officials continue to stand by the "all-comers" policy, arguing that the policy was initiated to prevent discrimination, and is not an issue of religious freedom.

"This debate is about nondiscrimination, not religious freedom, and we stand behind our policy," Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at the university, previously told The Washington Post.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/vanderbilt-students-launch-campaign-to-protect-religious-freedom-on-campus-73480/