Catholic group leaving university over “discriminatory non-discrimination” policy

Sad but true.  Details:

One of the largest student religious groups at Vanderbilt [University] will be leaving campus at the end of the year in a dispute over the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

That policy bars student groups from requiring their leaders to hold specific religious beliefs.

Leaders of Vanderbilt Catholic said that rule makes no sense. They won’t comply and instead will become an independent, off-campus ministry.

“The discriminatory non-discrimination policy at Vanderbilt University has forced our hand,” the Rev. John Sims Baker, chaplain of Vanderbilt Catholic, said in a statement Tuesday. He added: “Our purpose has always been to share the Gospel and proudly to proclaim our Catholic faith. What other reason could there be for a Catholic organization at Vanderbilt?”

Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt, said the school values religious groups on campus and was aware of the Vanderbilt Catholic decision.

“We regret, but respect, their decision,” Fortune said in an emailed statement. “We believe, though, that the vast majority of our more than 400 registered student organizations easily will comply with the policy.”

The dispute between Vanderbilt and religious groups began after a Christian fraternity expelled a gay member. That led the school to review the constitutions of all registered student groups to make sure they comply with the nondiscrimination policy.

Last fall, four religious groups at Vanderbilt were put on provisional status for violating the policy. Over the past year, the school and the groups have been trying to work out a compromise.

The university published a written version of its policy as well as new guidelines for registered student groups in early March.

The sticking point is over student leaders. The university says it has an “all-comers” policy — meaning that groups must be open to all students and that every student should be allowed to run for office.

Religious groups such as Vanderbilt Catholic say any student can be a member. But leaders, they say, must uphold certain religious beliefs.

Read the rest.


  1. pagansister says:

    Their decision. If they don’t like the rules, then they obviously have the right to leave campus.

  2. Slaves to their moral vanity, university officials are willing to make themselves a laughingstock for the sake of a utopian pursuit of tolerance.

  3. VC (Vanderbilt Catholic) was put into a position where it had no choice but to quit the campus. As for the vice chancellor’s response, “we regret but respect (the decision of VC),” what a load of horse manure. Typical bureaucratese.

    Apparently, Catholics as Catholics (i.e. faithful to Church teachings) are no longer welcome at Vanderbilt. VC and the other affected groups should take their case to the alumni.

  4. The policy is idiotic in my opinion. Why would a non Catholic even want to be part of group?

  5. It’s like the last few weeks have been open season on Catholics. It’s getting ridiculous. I’m not a Catholic, but I am very devout in my own faith. I fully support my Catholic friends in these trying times.

  6. naturgesetz says:

    To disrupt it, perhaps.

  7. naturgesetz says:

    Yes, but don’t you see that the rule makes no sense when applied to specifically religious organizations?

  8. midwestlady says:


    But no damage done. Just move it to the parish where most of the Catholic students go to Mass.

  9. why would a professed Buddhist /lesbian want to receive the Holy Eucharist ?

  10. Sorry, in an obvious bow to being PC, the University shows just how ignorant they are. The irony is that a University is supposed to be a place where we share and accept other ideas in an effort to learn and in theory come to understand one and other better. I understand that the University asserts itself as a private institution so can impose whatever rules it wants. (Ironic that it does not let the clubs themselves have the same freedom.) But, I suppose if the government can limit religious freedom, then Vandebuilt feels it can do the same. Now that they have opened Pandora’s Box, will we see an Islamist as the leader of the Jewish club, perhaps a male running the female club….you get where this can go. I say kudos’ to the Catholic group for having the honesty and integrity to say no to the University. I wonder how many groups will agree on paper but not in reality. I wonder if the University will actually move to enforce their idiotic policy when they discover that in fact the Muslim group really only is open to a leader who practices the Muslim faith (which I have no problem with).

  11. To desecrate it?

  12. Vanderbilt has always had a southern anti-Catholic miasma about it. This doesn’t surprise me.

  13. I’m not exactly sure what “leaving” means here, but I’m pretty sure this group’s “leaving” the U solves the U’s problem, not the club’s. One of these days, Catholics are gonna wise up and say, “I have a right to be here. You might have the power to throw me out, but I’m not walking out just to lower your discomfort at seeing me. We’ll meet in the quad, in the rain, if you won’t give us a room, but we’re not leaving.”

  14. Katie Angel says:

    To learn about the faith, to meet new friends, as an invitee of a Catholic student, to have a place to belong, to have a place to worship God when his or her denomination isn’t on campus…….one of the soloists at our Catholic Campus Ministry in college was Presbyterian – they did not have Presbyterian services on campus and she wasn’t comfortable in the “non-denominational” service so she worshiped with us – and was respectful of our rules so she did not present herself for communion – but she was an active part of the Campus Ministry all four years we were there.

  15. Think about what you just said.

  16. Let me clarify my statement. A Catholic organization should welcome (as the Church does) anyone. One would hope that the members would elect leaders that would represent the purpose of their organization/club.

    That said, there are probably many details that are not covered in this brief article.

  17. VC is not limiting its membership to just Catholics. In fact, from what I have read, anyone can join the association, which would cover your example. However, what they are asserting is that to be an officer of VC, you need to be a Catholic. Again, this makes complete sense to me. It’s a Catholic organization presumably wanting to function within a Catholic framework and identity. To ensure it operates as the group intends, it makes sense to have your officers know and live that identity. As a Catholic, perhaps I might want to join the Muslim or Jewish group to learn more about those faiths. How could I honestly say let me be an officer? The University is clearly illustrating the famous line from Forest Gump, “stupid is as stuoid does”.

  18. Darn iPad meant to write stupid

  19. Chick O'Leary says:

    can’t wait until they have a Muslim run for leadership in B’nai Brith, or a creationist in the department of anthropology or paleontology.

  20. Mr. Peters – I agree with you most wholeheartedly – if indeed the Catholic Church wants to be accorded respect and acceptance then it has to stand for itself and all that it believes and teaches. Picking selective fights or leaving in a snit does not accomplish what the church needs – to find its soul and the power of its ideas and beliefs.

  21. Why would the majority of a Catholic group elect a non-Catholic to be a leader of the group?

  22. Vanderbilt is simply following the guidance of US Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals decisions on the subject.

  23. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Just a wild thought::It would be interesting if Catholics stood their ground at Vanderbilt and it took police to remove the Catholic group. I wonder if it would get the sympathetic coverage Black rights sit-ins got in the media??? Some famous Catholics like Dorothy Day “canonized” sit-ins by Catholics–maybe now’s the time to resurrect her courage.

  24. Reading the Old Testament cover to cover, up to Kings 2. Modern culture supplies never ending examples of those in power doing “evil in the sight of the Lord…” Those dogs will have their day. I really despise our culture.

  25. Exactly. So this again goes squarely back to the University. Why impose an open qualification standard when in fact it is meaningless. I go to my main point which is this is just a dumb decision from the University.

  26. So you are saying the SCOTUS has ruled that officers within a private organization must be open to anyone? I would like to see that.

  27. The left leaning college intelligentsia is continuing their pogrom of religion from campus.

    The left views religion as anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, and backward (example: lefty inserts joke about how Christians believe the creation of the universe was only 5000 years ago and Noah’s ark).

    It is no real surprise that this ruling has taken place.

    “Are Christian kids on U.S. college campuses facing open hostility and discrimination because of their faith? Supreme Court Justice Justice Samuel Alito seems to think so. So does U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Ripple – and human rights attorneys Gregory Baylor and Jordan Lorence.”

  28. midwestlady says:

    They don’t see it that way. They want to legitimatize their affliction by pretending it’s normal and acceptable. That’s the goal–to deny that homosexuality is an affliction even though they know it is and there is a lot of gay-generated literature that admits this.

  29. midwestlady says:

    Anyone is welcome to walk into a Catholic Church. However, the Catholic church does have some teachings which are not negotiable. If a Catholic chooses not to abide by those teachings, they have that option, but they cannot pretend those are not the teachings of the Church, and they cannot pretend that there are no consequences to actions, because there are.

  30. pagansister says:

    Because she was Catholic, Joe?

  31. midwestlady says:

    You can’t be both Catholic and Buddhist at the same time. That’s a contradiction in terms.

  32. midwestlady says:

    There’s always more information than what you hear in a news article, especially now that the news media is so biased. Only some information is used in each story because of time/space limitations. Someone has to pick and they do, and the story is almost always distorted.
    Not only that, but the choice of which stories to headline is also a value judgment. I’m thinking of the Martin/Zimmerman story now. There are many other stories which are very, very similar or even worse, that did not get picked up and headlined. Why this one?

  33. pagansister says:

    I disagree.

  34. I’ve been saying it for some time now. This is what the American Academy has been ducked to by the tyranny of the left. It’s no longer education, but indoctrination. Academic freedom, along with freedom of conscience were put to flight decades ago.

  35. Katie Angel says:

    I completely agree with you – I was responding the the question posed by Manny “The policy is idiotic in my opinion. Why would a non Catholic even want to be part of group?”

    What I wrote were some examples of why. :-)

  36. I went to grad school at Vanderbilt years ago and have kept up with this (in limited fashion) from afar. Staying off campus I suppose means moving all activities to the Cathedral, about 3 blocks from one corner of campus. A short or very long walk, depending on where you live, not the center of things. Also in a neighborhood I would not walk in alone as a woman at night (day is fine). Limited parking for drivers. VC used to have mass in the school’s chapel, since NO ONE ELSE was using it (the protestant Div school during the week, but not Sundays). I remember their all school campus ministry organization trying to shut down cults (admittedly there was one preying on students at the time) by advising people to not join religious groups that didn’t allow women in leadership (ummmm…). I heard of sorority girls not attending mass on campus because they thought their sisters would realize they were practicing Catholics. That’s the vibe there. So I support this decision, I understand there are few good options, but it is a real shame–VC has become a vibrant orthodox group and the campus need their witness.

  37. The muslim group is exempt from the rule. I called the Univerrsity yesterday and was told that the muslims CAN only have officers who are muslims…they have to the right to have only muslim leaders.

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