I have sort of an update on the religious liberty issue here at Vanderbilt, at least as it pertains to Vanderbilt Catholic. Many of you have been asking and praying about the situation. I thank you very much for your concern. It is something to be concerned about.
I had a meeting with the Provost of the University on Tuesday afternoon. It was a good meeting. I am certain that the administration wants Vanderbilt Catholic to remain an active presence on campus. They are also insistent about applying their non-discrimination policy to religious organizations. (Of course, they are not applying the policy uniformly. The university actually administers the discriminatory recruitment procedures for Greek organizations. It is called "rush.") Religious organizations are going to have to deal with the non-discrimination policy as it stands. The Provost asked if we could accommodate ourselves to this policy. I replied that it all depends on what the words say.
For membership and leadership of Vanderbilt Catholic, I am sure that we could craft some statement that would result practically in only Catholic leaders for the organization. But we would be doing so hypocritically, saying that these factors of time or service are of utmost importance when our religious mission is what our leaders need to embrace. We are not willing to act hypocritically.
It came to me, I believe as an inspiration, to work with our student Board on a statement for our constitution on membership and leadership that is based on the mission of Vanderbilt Catholic. We are crafting a mission statement that is strongly Catholic. It really expresses why Vanderbilt Catholic exists on the campus. Vanderbilt Catholic will be open to "all comers" who support the mission. I think that I can live with this. We will see if the Bishop and the administration can.
It is basically analogous to the chess club saying that it exists to promote chess on campus. Someone coming to the chess club looking for fellowship in cigar smoking could be directed to the cigar smoking club (there is one!), but the chess club would remain for chess.
If this fails, I really do not see what else we can do to stay on campus with integrity. I believe, however, that our constitution defining membership and leadership in terms of mission will be acceptable. I also believe that it will give Vanderbilt Catholic a stronger identity. I believe that other religious organizations could follow this example to remain on campus while strengthening their mission and identity as well. So please pray in particular about this proposal because it all depends on what the words say!
P.S. How 'bout them 'Dores!