Archive for August, 2009

The Growing Divide in Free Association Law

August 4, 2009

Student groups at America’s public universities are increasingly learning that, as in real estate, what matters most is location, location, location.  On Friday, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom and the Christian Legal Society appealed a lawsuit against the University of Montana School of Law concerning the denial of official student organization status to the local CLS chapter.  The University denied CLS official recognition because the group requires voting members to affirm CLS’s statement of faith, but the University argues that its “nondiscrimination” policy requires student groups to be open to all individuals.  In other words, the University believes that students’ constitutional right to associate freely with other students who share their beliefs is of less value than the University’s desire to root out alleged “discrimination.”  The federal district court agreed with the University’s position based on the Truth v. Kent School District decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  My colleague, David French, has written about Truth’s impact on public university students here.  Because of Truth, students in Montana, and in nine other states within the Ninth Circuit, have virtually no free association right to define their organization around a set of beliefs and central message if their university has a nondiscrimination policy.  This is why ADF has asked the United States Supreme Court to review the Truth case and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s evisceration of free association.

 On the other side of the country yesterday, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom and FIRE secured a significant victory for free association at Wright State University.  The Campus Bible Fellowship had been derecognized by the University earlier this year because the University determined that the group violated a “nondiscrimination” policy by requiring members and leaders to affirm the group’s statement of faith.  After ADF and FIRE sent letters to the University, it relented and agreed to grant CBF an exemption from the “nondiscrimination” policy.  The University rightly recognized that the group’s freedom of association was paramount in comparison to the University’s policy.

 These two situations, occurring over the span of only a few days, but miles apart in result, demonstrate the growing divide in free association jurisprudence.  Student groups at public colleges and universities within the Ninth Circuit have been hamstrung by the Truth decision (this was demonstrated most blatantly by the Ninth Circuit’s cursory decision in Christian Legal Society Chapter of the University of California Hastings College of the Law v. Kane) and at this point do not possess the same legal protections of student groups elsewhere in the country.  CLS students in Montana are second-class citizens when compared with the CBF students at Wright State.

 The federal circuit courts of appeals are in conflict with one another on the free association issue.  The Ninth Circuit greatly restricted this right in Truth.  The Seventh Circuit found that the right broadly protected student groups in Christian Legal Society Chapter at Southern Illinois University v. Walker.  And the Eleventh Circuit is due to rule any day on this issue in Beta Upsilon Chi at the University of Florida v. Machen.  The split between circuits on this issue continues to grow, despite the fact that several decades ago, the Supreme Court held that student groups have a right to freedom of association on public college campuses, including the right to define their groups around a core set of principles.

 The growing divide in free association jurisprudence is driving a wedge between Christian students and the ability to form student organizations defined by certain values.  The result is that student organizations in Ohio receive more protection under the Constitution than student organizations in Montana.  The Truth cert petition is one of the petitions to watch according to SCOTUSblog.  I’m certainly watching.  It’s time for the Court to take a free association case and reaffirm that the constitutional right to associate freely with like-minded people is one of highest values in our country.


Forcing “Tolerance”: UNC’s New Lexicon

August 4, 2009

The results of academia’s new “tolerance” movement have been visible for years now as the homosexual agenda has strengthened its grip on higher education. So-called “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, and Allied Resource Centers” have sprung up at virtually every major public university in the country. Purportedly created to provide an inclusive environment for everyone in the university community, in reality such centers work—at taxpayers’ expense—to redefine marriage, family, and sexuality.

A prime example is the LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, which is an officially recognized department under the Division of Student Affairs. The Resource Center promotes its own lexicon of preferred terms for students and faculty to use when discussing sex-related issues, including, “heterosexism,” “biphobia,” “genderqueer,” “intersex,” and “same gender loving.” A sample of the lexicon’s terms is quite enlightening.

“Heterosexism,” for example, is “[s]ocietal and institutional reinforcement of heterosexuality as the privileged and norm.” The term exemplifies UNC’s radical views on sex issues and posits the idea that heterosexuality is a worn-out concept merely upheld by the inertia of the status quo. Apparently, UNC is unconcerned with the fact that heterosexuality has been the norm for the entire history of mankind’s existence. Indeed, mankind would not exist if homosexuality was the “privileged” and the “norm.” UNC’s definition seeks to cast heterosexual relationships as merely a societal construct, rather than the natural building block for the perpetuation of human existence.

“Partner” is the preferred term for one’s “boyfriend/girlfriend” or “husband/wife” because it is “gender neutral and non-heterosexist.” The “neutral” nature of the term literally neuters the importance of the male and female sexes by making them irrelevant. But it does more. It does away with the uniqueness and permanence of the marriage relationship by equating it with any other fleeting sexual relationship. When you hear the term “partner,” do you think lifetime commitment or do-si-do? We all instinctively think the latter, and this association is intentional. To UNC, sexual relationships are nothing more than a temporary dance which you can join or leave at your leisure.

Another liberating term is “polyamory,” which is defined as “the ethical philosophy and practice of having nonpossessive, honest, responsible, loving and/or sexual relationships with multiple partners within parameters that are known and agreed upon by all people involved.” What is remarkable about this terminology is that it turns fidelity on its head. So if you sleep with someone other than your spouse, you aren’t “unfaithful,” you’re “polyamorous.” Where I come from, we simply call that “adultery,” a term noticeably absent from the LGBTQ’s lexicon, and one that UNC would undoubtedly consider intolerant. UNC’s terminology not only neutralizes the importance of the respective sexes and removes the idea of fidelity, it eviscerates the traditional, two-person model for marital relationships and opens it to an uncapped number of “partners.” In doing so, the advocates of this position eliminate the stability inherent in the traditional model and actually undercut the very joy and fulfillment they desperately seek in human relationships. King Solomon, who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines,1experienced “polyamory” to its fullest, and he counseled young men to follow a different path:

15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?                                                      17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.2

Students would be wise to heed Solomon’s advice rather than UNC’s recommendations for hollow and short-term sexual relationships.

This small sampling of terms illustrates that the overarching aim of UNC’s lexicon is to normalize deviant and promiscuous sexual behavior and to deconstruct norms such as marriage, fidelity, and commitment. Words matter and UNC knows it. That is why UNC is using your tax dollars to re-educate your children with a new “tolerant” vocabulary, one that you may not recognize when they come home for summer break.

1. I Kings 11:3 (New International Version).
2. Proverbs 5:15-19 (New International Version).

Forcing “Tolerance”: Thought Reform at Eastern Michigan University

August 3, 2009

One of the most stunning examples of this new “tolerance” has been revealed at Eastern Michigan University where the professors are engaging in outright thought reform to enforce the orthodoxy of special rights for homosexuals.  Julea Ward, a student enrolled in the graduate counseling program, learned this lesson the hard way when she expressed her religious objections to counseling and affirming a client’s homosexual behavior.  Following the direction of her supervising professor, as well as common practice in the profession, she referred the client to another counselor who did not object to homosexual-affirming therapy.  Julea’s supervisor then initiated disciplinary proceedings against Julea for “unethical, threatening or unprofessional conduct” and “[f]ailure to tolerate different points of view.”  During these Star Chamber-like proceedings, Julea was told she could not graduate unless she changed her “belief system” to conform to the University’s pro-homosexual position.  When she stuck to her convictions, the University dismissed her from the program for “imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals” and for “condon[ing] or engag[ing] in discrimination based on . . . sexual orientation.”  The Dean of the College of Education subsequently upheld the dismissal, and in doing so shed any pretense that EMU is interested in tolerance. 

 EMU could have easily tolerated Julea’s religious beliefs without any prejudice to the homosexual client by simply allowing her to refer the client to someone else.  But these proposed arrangements are unacceptable when you are committed to imposing an orthodoxy that affirms homosexual behavior.  So much for the marketplace of ideas.

Forcing “Tolerance”: An Introduction

August 3, 2009

Well, the gloves have come off and it is apparent that tolerance is no longer . . . well, very tolerant. For decades, university officials have been trumpeting “tolerance,” “inclusion,” and “diversity” at America’s elite institutions of higher learning. While these concepts are not intrinsically problematic, it has become increasingly clear that their meaning on campus is being defined by the inflexible demands of the homosexual agenda. The advocates of this agenda have shown that they do not want to co-exist peacefully with societal norms, but rather to strong-arm society into embracing their sexual choices as morally right. And university officials have been more than willing to partner with homosexual advocates in achieving this goal by using a variety of coercive methods.

Stay tuned for a periodic series of posts that will take a closer look at these methods and their impact on the university community. They will demonstrate that the academy has made one thing crystal clear: its brave new world of “tolerance,” “inclusion,” and “diversity” simply has no room for dissent.