With high school seniors putting on their caps and gowns, many parents are looking at potential colleges for the fall. However, as moms and dad consider where to send their kids, they should realize Vanderbilt University is hostile to religious freedom. Constitutional expert (and my husband) David French writes about it here, by explaining that “The non-religious private school and recipient of massive amounts of state and federal taxpayer dollars, has implemented a policy that required religious student groups to open themselves to non-religious leadership.” This means that Christian student groups must be open to leaders who oppose Christian teachings about sexuality, among other issues.
Apparently, some big athletic donors are pushing back, though the school denies it. Nashville City Paper reports:
[General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics David] Williams said he, personally, hasn’t witnessed any athletic fundraising blowback from the all-comers discussion.
“I’m not saying that there may not be people who are out there, but we haven’t encountered anybody who has made [all-comers] an issue at all,” Williams said.
At least one donor says that’s just not true.
The City Paper spoke with a longtime supporter, who asked to remain anonymous, who said his family was prepared to make a six-figure donation toward the new multipurpose facility — if Vanderbilt made an exception for religious groups in the nondiscrimination policy. The donor said he met with Franklin and Williams outside of Nashville.
“We expressed . . . that we would like to be able to give, we believe in what Coach Franklin’s doing, but we just can’t do that knowing what we know about what’s happening to the religious groups there,” he said.
Similarly, longtime Commodore Club member Tom Singleton has been outspoken about his disdain for the Vanderbilt policy and the school’s enforcement of it. He appears in a video, along with Brentwood’s vice mayor (and a VU alum) Rod Freeman, that denounces the policy’s nondiscrimination mandate for leadership positions.
“The reason this is so objectionable to me is that they are [opening up leadership positions in Christian groups] for non-Christians. But they are allowing fraternities and sororities to discriminate based on gender,” Singleton said. “I can’t, in good conscience, continue to be associated with them.”
Singleton said he didn’t renew his football and basketball season tickets — and that he was cutting all ties with the school.