The Gospel According to Jim

Posted: Feb 26, 2004 12:00 AM

Dear Chancellor (James) Moeser:

In the summer of 2003, I wrote an article concerning an important First Amendment controversy at UNC Chapel Hill. You responded to readers who wrote your office suggesting that I had misrepresented the nature and extent of the particular controversy. I then wrote another article, which called into question the veracity of your form email. I also asked you some very direct questions that you have not yet answered. I am now writing to ask you a few more questions about an email you and several other administrators received in February of 2003. The text of that email follows:

Dear Sirs:

As the president of (our) Christian Fraternity, I have been alerted in the past month and a half that if our organization does not conform our constitution to the university?s anti-discriminatory policy then we will lose all privileges as an officially recognized group as of February 14. As the deadline approaches, I was hoping for a similar reprieve to the one granted to Intervarsity (Christian Fellowship), however it seems that one is not forthcoming.

This situation will put me in a predicament, which I would like to avoid. I must choose whether I will seek legal action against an institution, which I dreamed to come to for so long and one that has provided me with vast opportunities for which I will never be able to repay; or I will have to give up my First Amendment rights to freedom of religious exercise and freedom to peaceably assemble. In that process, I will compromise the purpose of our fraternity, to offer an alternative to secular fraternities for Christians who don?t want to be subject to the expectations of a secular fraternity member. I will also compromise the diversity, which this university tries to maintain. However, by making all organizations compromise their diverse purposes we will forever damage diversity in our community. Not only that, but what would I be doing to help other organizations who face similar problems whether these organizations be for African Americans, for Muslims, or for homosexuals? (Our fraternity) does not oppose diversity, instead we seek to utilize it to carve out our own section and purpose within the university community for those who are interested in exploring it.

In order to maintain diversity and make use of our First Amendment rights, (our fraternity) will not change its charter to align with the University?s anti-discrimination policy. If on February 14, our privileges as an officially recognized organization are indeed revoked; we will regretfully have no choice but to seek legal recourse. I thank you for your time, your consideration, and your part in making this community one in which students can freely pursue their own ambitions.

(Name Deleted)

After I wrote my initial article accusing your administration of systematically violating the constitutional rights of Christian organizations, your form response to my readers included the following three assertions:

1. The controversy over forcing religious organizations to admit members regardless of factors such as religion and sexual orientation was limited to one organization; Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
2. The controversy was resolved in January 2003.
3. The controversy was resolved amicably.

Remember that the above email was sent directly to you on February 11, 2003. Also note that it was not sent by Intervarsity but rather, a different Christian organization on your campus. And, of course, this threat of litigation cannot be described as amicable.

This leads me to ask you the following questions; 1) What would you say to people who might conclude that UNC Chapel Hill has been systematically violating the constitutional rights of Christian organizations (plural)? And, 2) What would you say to those who might conclude that the UNC Chapel Hill administration has not been truthful with the public about the nature and extent of those violations?

Finally, Chancellor, if your administration is not committed to the constitution, then how can you preach to us about academic freedom? And if your administration does not tell the truth at all times, how can you punish your students for academic dishonesty?

Mike S. Adams can be reached at