In my career as a professor, I have noticed that college administrators often try to do things in private that they could never defend in public. That is why publicity is usually the best remedy when college administrators abuse their authority. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis probably put it best when he said that ?Sunlight is the best disinfectant.?
But Louis Brandeis never met the current administration at UNC Chapel Hill. After being sued and embarrassed in the court of public opinion in 2003, there is now credible information indicating that the administration at UNC is waging a new underground war on religious organizations, all in the name of diversity and tolerance. The behavior of the administration now indicates that they know they are violating the law and that they are trying to conceal that fact from the public. Of course, it is the public that is unwittingly funding the administration?s illegal assault on religious liberty.
For those who do not recall, efforts to sue UNC began in early 2003, shortly after the university threatened to freeze the funds of numerous religious organizations (mostly Christian) unless they allowed any student to join as a voting member of their organization. That rule applied even if the student was of a different religion or if the student happened to be an atheist.
At least one organization was told in 2003 that they must allow students opposed to their orthodox religious beliefs to hold elective office. Another group was told that their constitution could not say that the group subscribes to a ?belief in God.?
After threats of litigation by more than one organization and media exposure in numerous columns and books, it appeared that the university had decided to respect the constitutional rights of students in campus religious organizations. Indeed, it appeared that the university finally understood that the First Amendment rights of freedom of association and freedom of religion trumped the diversity clauses in the student handbook.
Unfortunately, such optimism now appears to be misplaced.
Recently, I received information that the president of a Christian organization at UNC met with Jonathan Curtis, the administrator in charge of the recognition of student groups, in September of 2003. The meeting was convened to discuss the group?s concerns about the application for recognition.
The president of that group claims that he offered to submit the application with an addendum objecting to the provision in the application that prohibits discrimination based on religious affiliation. In other words, he wanted to form a Christian group that was actually comprised of Christians.