On Being “Compromised”

Over at the Mirror of Justice, Lisa Schiltz offers a brief recap of the Religiously Affiliated Law Schools conference that began yesterday and is continuing today, and which Mark attended.  Though I did not attend the conference, and so did not hear the exchange that she describes, this statement about a claim by Professor Michael Broyde caught my eye:

Michael Broyde from the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory sparked some friendly fireworks with his provocative claim that law and religion institutes at religiously-affiliated schools are necessarily compromised in their ability to engage in an intellectually honest pursuit of truth[.]

The idea of a scholar, or a scholarly center, being “compromised” because of the religious affiliation of the home institution is an interesting one and I want to explore it here.  Because I did not hear Professor Broyde myself, I will rely on Lisa’s report of his remarks — more to think through some of these issues than to attack anything he said specifically. 

I can think of three ways in which an academic institution or the scholar working in it may be “compromised” in the “intellectually honest pursuit of truth” by a religious affiliation.  Let’s take them one at a time.

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Tennessee Governor to Veto Vanderbilt Bill

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced that he will veto the bill, discussed here, that would ban “all-comers” policies, such as the one at Vanderbilt University, that require student groups to open their leaderships to all students, including students who reject the groups’ core beliefs. Although he disapproves such policies, Haslam said, he thinks it’s “inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution.”