Saturday, August 11, 2012

Signs Religious Liberty and Tolerance To Return To Vanderbilt Campus ? - Newspaper Op Ed

I have posted a good bit on the problems with religious liberty at the Vanderbilt campus. If he can happen there one has to think places like Tulane and who knows where  else might be next.The Catholic Campus Minister gives an overview of what happened here.

It was then of great interest to see that the Nashville Newspaper had an editorial to mark the occasion of  the resurrection of the position of university chaplain and the appointment of the Rev. Mark Forrester as chaplain and director of religious life for the private university. See New Vanderbilt chaplain a good choice

It is refreshing to see a major newspaper stand for religious liberty on campus and as you can tell from their jabs they still think that Vanderbilt has some learning to do.

In the piece the Catholic campus minister seems to like this appointment and who knows maybe this will be steps to get Vanderbilt Catholic and others back on campus as an official organization again .

Though certain remarks made by good Rev Mark Forrester in this press release  make me wonder if he is going to just be carrying out the regimes orders. To wit:

During the past year, questions arose around religious life at Vanderbilt, particularly how the university’s nondiscrimination policy applies to religious student groups – some of which feel their beliefs and missions are inconsistent with the policy designed to protect the entire Vanderbilt community from discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

Forrester said he welcomes this kind of dialogue on campus and believes “faith via conversation” can play an important role.

“The faith we practice weekly through prayer, liturgy and study are core teachings that help shape and maintain personal continuity with tradition, but what vitalizes these beliefs are the experiences that cause us to grapple with them. And we can only grapple with truth within the free-flowing, ‘all-doubts-are-welcome’ dynamic of religion,” he said.

I am not sure what that last line I put in bold indicate as to the current troubles over autonomy and leadership.

However on a positive note Father Baker sees this as Godsend. So perhaps there is hope for Catholics and others on campus that the Vandy folks realize people are not just "playing Church" on campus and deserve autonomy in leadership.

If it takes a combination of student, alumni, national religious comment , newspapers op eds , with a heap of WHAT THE HELL moments from the Tennessee legislature maybe it will happen. Hopefully this is a sign that Vandy Catholics and others can return to campus with full rights as all other student groups on campus.

This is an important battle that has implications beyond Vandy.

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