Larry Gatlin and Jonathan Rauch on Christian Groups at Vanderbilt

Now there’s a pairing you don’t see everyday. Country music star Larry Gatlin and Brookings Institute scholar Jonathan Rauch both weigh in on Vanderbilt’s denial of recognition to Christian groups in this new video from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Higher Education (FIRE). Vanderbilt denied the groups recognition under its all-comers policy, which requires groups to open their leadership positions to all students, even students who disagree with the groups’ principles. In CLS v. Martinez (2010), the Supreme Court held that such a policy is consistent with the First Amendment. Many American universities have such a policy, but not all; recently, for example, SUNY-Buffalo decided to allow the local chapter of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship to require its leaders to affirm the group’s beliefs. The FIRE video is a very good introduction to the topic; unfortunately, Vanderbilt apparently did not accept FIRE’s invitation to present its side of the story.

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