According to the employee, the administrator claimed that this increase in student Christian organizations began shortly after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The employee alleged that the administrator said that this was generating concern among some administrators because it suggested that the student body was becoming more conservative.Upon hearing this account of the meeting, I immediately dismissed the report as inaccurate. It seemed difficult to imagine that such a sentiment would ever be publicly expressed by even the most brazen and reckless of administrators. Despite my generally low level of confidence in college administrators' respect for religious liberty, this report simply seemed too far-fetched to believe.
Unfortunately, on December 8, 2003, a member of the Student Organization Committee (SOC) at UNCW told me that the university was indeed considering a possible quota on Christian organizations at UNC-Wilmington. During our conversation, this tenured faculty member casually stated that the university had too many Christian organizations to manage. He claimed that it would soon be necessary to stop recognizing new Christian organizations and instead have students conform their religious beliefs to those of existing organizations.
Since that conversation, my concerns that such a plan will actually be implemented have increased dramatically. This is a direct result of new information concerning the conduct of the SOC with regard to their recent de-recognition of the College Republicans (CRs).
My first contact with the SOC came last October when I learned that they were preparing to de-recognize the CRs for refusing to sign an adherence clause that would prevent them from limiting membership in their Republican club to people who are actually Republicans. I wanted to make certain that the CRs were not being singled out for de-recognition, so I called the chair of the committee.
During that conversation, I learned that religious groups would soon be forced to admit members regardless of religion or sexual orientation. That disclosure raised even more serious questions. Specifically, I wanted to know why the university thought that its diversity policies trumped the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of association and freedom of religion.