2011 Archives

Religious Colleges Choose Not to Recognize Secular Student Groups

Excerpt

The following ran in the Nov. 7, 2011, edition of the Christian Post. SMU Chaplain Stephen Rankin provided expertise for this story.

November 16, 2011

By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Contributor

While making more accommodations for religious minorities at their facilities, many Christian colleges draw the line at atheism.

Earlier this year, Notre Dame University, which has a Muslim Student Association and a Jewish Club, rejected an application to create a Secular Student Alliance chapter.

Dennis Brown, assistant vice president of Public Information and Communications for Notre Dame, told The Christian Post that the university’s policy is that a student organization’s goals must not contradict the mission of the university or the Roman Catholic teaching....

In an interview with The Christian Post, Chaplain Stephen Rankin of Southern Methodist University said that SMU has an SSA chapter as it believes in “respectful free speech.”

“As a matter of principle, we encourage open speech as part of the educational process young people should experience in becoming fully adult,” said Rankin.

“So, even at a Christian faith-based school, the presence of a secularist group permits for conversation and debate about what we believe most valuable.”

Rankin also noted that he respected Baylor's decision on the issue of having non-Christian student organizations recognized on campus.

“I believe any university has the right and responsibility to make decisions about these matters in a way that officials believe are consistent with the university's mission,” said Rankin.

“I respect Baylor's well-thought response, although we at SMU do not operate that way.”