The Supreme Court declared in 2010 that public universities must permit religious student clubs to select leaders who share their faith. UNC-Greensboro is now getting around this by declaring that a Christian student club isn’t really religious.
On what grounds? It isn’t affiliated with a church.
Other schools are apparently pursuing this strategy as well. Expect to hear more about it.
This is closely related to the problem Nathaniel Peters wrote about on Friday. Peters was writing about the recent HHS decision to require almost every institution in America other than churches to become abortion providers. He made the case that if we base our objections to this on our own conscience rights, we may absolutize the privatization of moral principles, such that the public square is no longer responsible to any standard of right and wrong.
Alongside that problem, place this correlative problem: if we make claims based on the special role of religious institutions in society, we may invite unlimited oppression of all other institutions besides those that conform to the narrowest possible definition of “religious.”
This is not just relevant at UNC. In the debate over the HHS mandate, we’ve been maneuvered into defending a special right for “religious” institutions not to be forced to become abortion providers. All we’re doing is quibbling over the definition of “religious institution.” What about all the other institutions that aren’t “religious institutions” in the narrow sense, but are staffed by human beings (yes, even profit-making businesses are staffed by human beings) who are now required by federal law to become part of the abortion industry?