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05/22/2009

Liberty University: Where political science is apparently neither

by Jeremy Hooper

Are you sick of the way The Liberty Counsel and its parent school, Liberty University, work to remove gays from the world? Well don't feel personally slighted: They also seek to eliminate of of this nation's two most prominent political parties.

The Washington Post has obtained an almost unbelievable email in which Liberty University's VP of Student Affairs, Mark Hine, dismantles the school's Democratic Club. Here's a snippet:

From: Hine, Mark (VP Student Affairs)
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 1:37 PM
Subject: LU College Democrats

I must inform you that the College democrats' club is no longer going to be recognized as a Liberty University club. We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by Liberty University.

...
Even though this club may not support the more radical planks of the democratic party, the democratic party is still the parent organization of the club on campus. The Democratic Party Platform is contrary to the mission of LU and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc). The candidates this club supports uphold the Platform and implement it. The candidates supported are directly contrary to the mission of LU. By using LU or Liberty University and Democrat in the name, the two are associated and the goals of both run in opposite directions.
Text of E-Mail From Liberty University Revoking Recognition and Access for College Democrats [WaPo]

Dean-BarberYes, because that's what all good institutions of higher learning do: Tell youn'uns that they can be anything they want to be -- just as long as it's a conservative Christian. It doesn't matter to Liberty U. if their students' independent educational journeys lead them to embrace both God and a donkey. According to this school, the Lord's Prayer is heard by heaven only if it travels in on the back of an elephant.

Oy vey!

Ya know, back when yours truly was a freshman in college and my roommates and I didn't want the R.A. to smell our, uhm, cigarette smoke, we would stuff dryer sheets in a cardboard tube and blow out through that. It was an oddly effective strategy, considering the nearest laundry room was five floors down. So since it was so effective and, presumably, adaptable to other collegiate circumstances, I now have to wonder: How many of Liberty's incoming freshman will stuff dryer sheets down their underwear so as to avoid the school's anti-gay, anti-progressive smoke from being blown up their arses? And if that answer is scant, I have to ask: How can we convince them to do so before the fall?

**UPDATE: Maddow, herself a Rhodes Scholar, is on the collegiate case:

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

As a private institution such is Liberty's right to bar any group that in their view doesn't adhere to the university's Code. I support that right, even if I disagree with them. Having said this, if there is an "LU College Republicans" that is still supported by the university I would like to know whether this violates any Federal laws. I specifically have in mind Federal student loans, military Tuition Assistance Program for active duty personnel and the GI Bill. If Liberty is violating any laws with the appearance at least of political favoritism, I want these funds yanked immediately. I strongly defend their right to discriminate in this case since they are a private university, but not their "right" to do so while taking public money. There exists no right for that.

The same goes for any private university that takes similar action against college Republican groups, as LU has done against college Dems.

Posted by: John | May 22, 2009 4:53:24 PM

"As a private institution such is Liberty's right to bar any group that in their view doesn't adhere to the university's Code."

Oh don't get me wrong, John: I never said they don't have the RIGHT to do so. Just that it's not right to do so.

As for the Republican question: Yes, according to reports, they do have one (or maybe more than one). I think they can probably get away with it because they can say that the Republican platform fits their "code" whereas the Democratic one does not. But you do raise some good questions that are worth researching.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 22, 2009 4:59:42 PM

Sone of of their professors may also be getting Federal Grants?? This really needs to be look into.

Posted by: LOrion | May 22, 2009 5:20:44 PM

How is this all that different from gay activists' attitude toward the Log Cabin Republicans. The Log Cabins say, correctly, that political parties are not fixed forever in time, and that the GOP can - with effort - be made more pro-gay just as happened with the Democrats in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The progressive activists' view is that the GOP is inherently and forever anti-gay, so no gay or lesbian should be a member of that party.

Liberty U. is the mirror image of the activist view. And it is just as wrong-headed.

Posted by: Michael | May 22, 2009 5:22:55 PM

Jeremy: I checked LU's website and the university receives all such funding I mentioned. I'm not lawyer so I have no idea what laws apply here, but for those who are this may be something to check into.

Posted by: John | May 22, 2009 5:43:19 PM

"Ya know, back when yours truly was a freshman in college and my roommates and I didn't want the R.A. to smell our, uhm, cigarette smoke, we would stuff dryer sheets in a cardboard tube and blow out through that. It was an oddly effective strategy, considering the nearest laundry room was five floors down."

REALLY???

We'd just spray FeBreeze or whatever up towards the vent. Or even better, just sit in the window sill LOL

Posted by: Scott | May 22, 2009 6:02:45 PM

What kind of Democrat would want to be in Liberty U?

Posted by: ---- | May 22, 2009 6:22:16 PM

"How is this all that different from gay activists' attitude toward the Log Cabin Republicans."

Michael: I fail to see much connection. Maybe it's because I'm someone who, although an out and proud Democrat, fully support LCR (or anyone's) mission of making the GOP more pro-gay. And honestly, I think most progressives see that goal as a positive one -- regardless of whether they agree with the way LCR sometimes goes about it.

I certainly have my own STRONG disagreement with LCR's strategies and what I see as apologizing for anti-gay candidates (::cough:: Palin ::cough::). Hell, I even demanded that LCR remove my name from their blogroll after one of their '08 campaign tactics thoroughly disgusted me. But it's never changed my view that the idea of working from the inside is a good one. And I've always been good, even eager, about complimenting pro-gay GOP voices. Honestly, extreme partisanship is more unattractive to me than many (most?) other political concepts.

But the primary issue in the Liberty U. situation is not the state of anti-gayness of the GOP. It's that Liberty, an institution of higher learning that grants degrees, is essentially ignoring a major political party. And they are doing so based on one certain mindset about not only what is and is not a Democrat, but also what certain types of (assumed or true) Democratic principles mean in terms of God.

In terms of assumption, I can see how you might apply that last statement to progressive's views of LCR. But again: I don't think the prevailing progressive view would want to see gay people forcibly banned from being Republicans/trying to change the GOP from within. And I don't think most Republicans, even conservative ones, wouldn want to see folks forcibly shut out from even acknowleging or exploring the Democratic party -- only Liberty Univ. seems to want this.

The only real comparison would be if there were a school built around progressive principles and the subject of a Republican club came up. I have faith that the VAST majority of progressives, and certainly that theoretical school's organized establishment (however it would be arranged in this environ), would support the club's right to be there!

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 22, 2009 7:18:23 PM

I don't understand how Liberty U is so anti-progressive; you can't throw a rock there without hitting an LGBT.

Posted by: Harrison | May 22, 2009 8:51:04 PM

Isn't the term 'liberty' associated with freedom and individual rights? Liberty University is a misnomer.

Posted by: KZ | May 22, 2009 9:11:08 PM

I can see and understand why Liberty would want to bar a Democratic club because many of the things they stand for (abortion rights, gay rights) are against the school policies.

The question that I have is, do their morals allow them to tolerate a party that supports the torture of other human beings, poor treatment of immigrants (when God clearly threatened to destroy the nation if they did not treat aliens with care and respect), neglect of the poor, tolerance of adultery, and tolerance of the venom coming from people like Coulter and Limbaugh.

The Democratic parry may not fit their world view, but if one of them would read the Bible for a change, they would see that the Repulblicans are no closer to it.

Posted by: Steve - Geneva, IL | May 22, 2009 9:12:19 PM

The Democratic Party platform supports hate crimes????????????!!!!! What is Hine smoking?

Posted by: daniel rotter | May 23, 2009 1:11:27 AM

Jeremy and Scott, I guess only us old guys relied on incense. I feel so out of it.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | May 23, 2009 3:37:34 AM

I'd be proud to be told my moral principles are diametrically opposed to those of Liberty University.

Posted by: Buffy | May 23, 2009 8:12:01 AM

Mike: Oh no, don't feel old. My freshman dorm was so strict, we weren't allowed to burn incense! It would have drawn more attention than the smoke.

Thus the reason why I moved into my own apartment after my requisite one year in the dorms.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 23, 2009 8:31:51 AM

As a Liberty parent, I'm pleased with the university's stand. If federal funding statutes are violated as a result of standing true to its convictions, Liberty should be subject to and accept the consequences.

The university is not expelling Democrats, it simply won't have its name associated with the national party.

Amen.

Posted by: Chuck | May 23, 2009 8:45:45 AM

Chuck,

I appreciate your stand. Especially when you say that if they lose federal funding, they should be subject and accept those consequences.

If that happens, and I was a betting man though, I would be willing to put a lot of money on Liberty yelling and screaming that they are being persecuted for taking a stand. We see this happen over and over again. The boy scouts, the situation in New Jersey with that seaside pavillion.

The religious right wants the money and the opportunity to play the victim more than they want to stick to their convictions.

Posted by: Steve - Geneva, IL | May 23, 2009 10:36:39 AM

Chuck: I would ask, in all sincerity: Don't you see how this sort of thing could affect your child's future? To much of the nation, this sort of thing makes Liberty seem less-than-credible as a university. I mean, we aren't even talking about an atheist or anti-creationism club (outfits towards which I could actually see Liberty justifying a limitation). We are talking about this country's majority party -- the party of our president, congress, and larger portion of our nation's registered voters. It is not simply a matter of values -- it's a matter of living within this nation's political reality.

If Liberty students and faculty have such a problem with Democrats, they should let the club exist, and then show up at every meeting to peacefully and civilly challenge the club's views. But the ban on the club is only going to damage Liberty's reputation.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 23, 2009 10:57:17 AM

JH, Liberty U has a reputation?? You mean as something other than a laughing stock?? We're talking about a fourth-tier institution here with a 94% acceptance rate! But, I do have to admit that if a lawyer wanted a job in the Cheney/Bush Justice Department, Liberty U was the Alma Mater most preferred - of course, you know where that got us.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 23, 2009 4:04:47 PM

Chuck, would you be equally as pleased with the university's stand if they eliminated the Republican club on very similar moral grounds? I mean, really, the republicans might give lip service to opposing abortion, but under Dubya's administration the rate of abortions went up. That reversed a 10 year trend that culminated under Clinton's administration, when abortions went down significantly virtually every year.

If you oppose abortion, then it seems to me that you would have serious moral issues with the republicans, and perhaps even more so than with the democrats. But, then, I suspect that your response here is much more partisan than that.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 23, 2009 6:53:43 PM

Everyone must go read Peter LaBarbera's clumsy (and rage-filled) attempt to make a point. It's a wacky one, even for Pete:

http://americansfortruth.com/news/rachel-maddow-and-liberty-universitys-democratic-club-does-rachel-understand-liberty.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 23, 2009 9:19:01 PM

If you substitute Falwell for Maddow, and LU for his hypothetical, and slightly alter all of his slurs, then his story would almost exactly fit LU. But, notice how, in his hypothetical, he thrashes the bigot, but then says at the end says that it is perfectly okay to be a bigot, iff you are LU.

One more time, he THRASHES the hypothetical bigot, but then HEAPS APPROVAL on the ACTUAL BIGOT.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 23, 2009 9:40:40 PM

That evangelical LaBarbera's evangelical post was definately evangelical and strange! I mean, his evangelical gloves have really come off, and he's basically dropped all evangelical pretense of evangelical love-thy-neighbor christianity, humility, and compassion. All that he has left is name-calling and tortured evangelical reasoning. And evangelically repeating "lesbian" twelve times in a five-paragraph post!

I'm not too worried about his "idiot evangelical" impact on that "smarty-pants lesbian" Maddow. How awful to think of yourself that way - no wonder he's so bitter.

Posted by: Sykler | May 24, 2009 9:16:47 AM

Hmmm, BYU's Idaho campus recently announced they were dissolving both Young Republicans and College Democrats ... ostensibly due to concerns about maintaining "political neutrality" ... http://www.chinoblanco.com/2009/05/byu-idaho-dissolves-student-political.html

After reading this news out of Liberty U, I'm guessing there must've been some high-level interfaith winger powwow held recently that voted in favor of forcing the Dems to decamp.

Posted by: Chino Blanco | May 24, 2009 11:22:27 PM

Against Christian doctrine?! Socialism?!?!?!?!?!?!

OH MY LOL!

Jesus was history's first communist! Theological fail.

Posted by: Chris | May 26, 2009 6:28:46 AM

I just read that LU did NOT ban the Democratic club, it was all spun out of proportion! Read the Op-Ed by Liberty and the new update on the meeting with the Democratic club themselves on the Liberty University website.

Posted by: Kel | May 29, 2009 9:26:19 AM

Kel: Do you attend/work for Liberty?

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 29, 2009 9:43:12 AM

I'm fairly certain that the reason (at least the one that was given to me) for the disbanding of the club was because someone was raising money through the club for a rally or some other political thing. They were going to have Liberty's name written on it somewhere and Liberty didn't want that to happen.
It wasn't a stab at the democrat students, because if that was the problem they would have never allowed the club to be formed in the first place. Nothing personal. Just saying.

Posted by: Mel | Feb 13, 2010 12:36:12 AM

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