Universities all across the US have begun to force religious student organizations to allow non-members of their respective faiths to be officers of the organization. Universities are systematically going through the student organization rules and making policies that prohibit the organizations from restricting leadership to members of their particular faith. The video below is of one such policy being implemented at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt is not the only school that has this policy. Texas A&M University, a relatively conservative school in the heart of what used to be the Bible belt, has a similar policy, and last year forced religious student organizations to change thier chapter constitutions so that leadership is not restricted to members of the particular religion.
Some of this originated from a San Diego State case where some atheists came to a Christian organization meeting and elected themselves officers of the organization. The case went to court (Alpha Delta Chi v. Reed), and the liberal 9th circuit court in California upheld the right of the atheists to take over the organization, and the right of the school to tell Christian organizations that they must accept atheists as leaders. A few days ago the Supreme Court let the case stand by deciding to not review the case.
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel David Cortman comments about the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to review the case:
“Public universities should encourage, not censor, the free exchange of ideas. But for now, the supposed marketplace of ideas at San Diego State University will remain a stronghold for censorship. We wish the Supreme Court would have used this opportunity to make clear that the First Amendment protects the right of student groups to employ belief-based criteria in selecting their members and leaders.”
“Throughout the years of defending its policy, the university did not tell the Democratic club it must be led by a Republican, or the vegetarian club that it must be led by a meat-eater, but it did tell Christian groups that they must allow themselves to be led by atheists. Even its purported, 11th-hour policy change made at the doorstep of the Supreme Court continues to treat religious groups less favorably than many other student groups. When political conformity is placed ahead of the constitutionally protected rights of students, all students–including students of faith–suffer.”