I wanted to invite your prayers for the campus community at Vanderbilt University. Tonight (Tuesday, 1/31/2012), the administration will be hosting a town hall meeting to address the campus regarding its non-discrimination policy. I noticed that the guests welcomed are students, faculty, and staff of the university; you should expect law enforcement to be out in force as well…
(A bit of humor to inject here: a parallel event is being hosted on campus at the same time titled, “Education Nation Panel“. If you’re looking for an event discussing education in Tennessee & the USA, with little or no law enforcement present, and want a free book: this event is for you…)
But: back to the topic at hand: The back-story here, is that, more than a year ago, a Christian fraternity expelled one of its own when that man admitted to being gay.
This explusion catalyzed several administrative moves, including reviews of the constitutions of all student groups. The end result was the de-certifications of three (or four?) Christian student groups, for whom the student leadership would be expected to subscribe to the particular beliefs, creeds, and religious convictions of the student group.
The expectation that students would be required to hold such beliefs in order to become leaders in the respective student groups was considered discriminatory by the university.
As you might expect, this kind of reasoning has been savaged from inside and outside of Tennessee…
I’ll leave you with a few links from various sources, but I would invite you to pray. My sense is that we can read opinion pages and get stirred up- and insofar as that cultivates an increased exercise of prayer- so be it. But, if not, then:
• Pray now for the Chancellor, the other administrators, students, alumni, campus ministers (of all religious commitments) to host a passionate and reasoned conversation with one another.
• Pray as well for the Christian groups on campus that have been officially de-certified: that their identity will increasingly be in Jesus, and not a function of university recognition per se.
• Pray as well that the Christian students would pursue in love the administrators, faculty, and fellows students for whom this policy is perceived as an important corrective to discrimination: this would be a tough one, but entirely coherent with the call of Jesus to love your enemies.