Monday, June 28, 2010

The Supreme Court just ruled that a college or university may deny a student group official status if that group does not allow homosexuals as leaders. This should affect Muslim as well a Christian groups. This is a severe attack on freedom of religion and freedom of speech

20 comments:

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Perhaps it's a recognition that public universities should not be in the business of discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The students are perfectly free to set up their own organization and keep those nasty gays out -- they're just not entitled to official University recognition.

Doug Groothuis said...

Part of freedom of religion is to follow one's conscience on these matters. To discriminate against such groups in public settings it to restrict freedom of religion. Yes, these groups can still function elsewhere, but they would be effectively expelled from any campus that denies them the status given to other groups, including religious groups.

So, the state would be favoring some religions over others, which it is not allowed to do under the Constitution.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

So, you would be in favor of granting official status to a religious club that did not allow blacks as officers? After all, that was the conscience of Mormons until fairly recently.

RkBall said...

Jeffrey -- can they keep those nasty pederasts out? Or would they have to admit pederasts in order to receive official university recognition? Are you against discrimination against all sexual orientations, or just those you personally approve of?

Would you grant bi-sexual persons the right to two legal partners in order to fully express their sexual orientation, or would you cruelly limit them to a forced choice between one sex or the other?

And what would you do with those whose sexual orientation leans towards adultery, polygamy, or swinging?

jeffdod said...

Hi Jeffrey,

I'm not sure that the comparison between gay people and black people is a valid one.

Black people are born with dark skin because it is part of God's design for us. Unless God changes the color of our skin after we are resurrected (which I see no reason to believe) there will be very dark skinned people in heaven, light skinned people, and everything in between. There will also be repentant homosexuals, liars, thieves, and swindlers in heaven as well. But none of those people will be there who have not repented and trusted in Jesus alone to save them. I take this from (among others) 1 Corinthians chapter 6.

I'm quite sure that if a person struggling with homosexuality--a person who was repentant--came to this campus organization and asked for prayer, help, and membership--it would be given to them.

Philip said...

I disagree. The college will not support a club that is accessible to only part of the student body, and freedom of religion does not require official recognition and support.

jeffdod said...

Philip,

Hmmm...so the women's sculling club must accept a gal who won't let the boat she's in go near the water. The vegetarian association must accept members who insist on grilling hamburgers every time they meet. The African-American Students Association must accept a man who claims to be a "Grand Duke" in the KKK, and the Children of Holocaust Survivors club must accept skinheads and neo-Nazis.

Now that's tolerance!

In any case, you said, "Freedom of religion does not require official recognition and support." If you are referring to freedom of religion in the legal sense as it is protected in our US Constitution, I believe you are mistaken. In Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), our Supreme Court ruled that, based on the "freedom of association" protected by the first amendment, a group may exclude people from membership if their presence would affect the group's ability to advocate a particular point of view. Interference with this right of exclusion is a violation of the first amendment.

Also, the Christian group was not even violating Hastings' policy by excluding gays. The policy states that a group "shall not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, ability, age, sex or sexual orientation" [emphasis added]. As noted above, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that it is lawful to exclude anyone from a group who interferes with adherence to a particular point of view.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Jeffdod:

Do you have any secular reasons to dismiss my comparison? By that, I mean a reason that would be acceptable to me and others who think that being gay or straight is probably just as much one's fundamental nature as being black or white, and not a sin.

Word said...

Is being gay like being black or white?

It seems it isn’t. Some secular reasons come from Dr. Thomas Benton, president of the American College of Pediatricians:

“In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is essential to understand there is
no scientific evidence that an individual is born ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.’ Instead, the best available
research points to multiple factors—primarily social and familial—that predispose children and
adolescents to homosexual attraction and/or gender confusion….

“Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is ‘… not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.’ He also states [that] ‘…the prominent role[s] of individual free will choices [has] a profound effect on us.’

“The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) recently released a landmark survey and analysis of 125 years of scientific studies and clinical experience dealing with homosexuality. This report, What Research Shows, draws three major conclusions: (1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals.”

(The above quotes come from Benton’s letter sent to superintendents of U.S. high schools on March 31, 2010. Look here.)

To recap: It’s seems not to be the case that being gay is probably just as much one’s fundamental nature as being black or white.

Here are some secular reasons for thinking this (gleaned from Benton’s letter):

• There is scientific evidence that an individual is born black or white, but not for being born gay or transgender.
• The scientific evidence for being born black or white is that it’s wholly biologically determined, but the scientific evidence for same-sex attraction is that it’s due primarily to social and familial factors/ influences.
• Unwanted blackness or whiteness cannot often be successfully treated, whereas unwanted same sex attraction can.
• Individual choices seem not to have an influence on our being black or white, whereas they have a role in being gay.

Word said...

Is being gay like being black or white?

It seems it isn’t. Some secular reasons come from Dr. Thomas Benton, president of the American College of Pediatricians:

“In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is essential to understand there is
no scientific evidence that an individual is born ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.’ Instead, the best available
research points to multiple factors—primarily social and familial—that predispose children and
adolescents to homosexual attraction and/or gender confusion….

“Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is ‘… not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.’ He also states [that] ‘…the prominent role[s] of individual free will choices [has] a profound effect on us.’

“The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) recently released a landmark survey and analysis of 125 years of scientific studies and clinical experience dealing with homosexuality. This report, What Research Shows, draws three major conclusions: (1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals.”

(The above quotes come from Benton’s letter sent to superintendents of U.S. high schools on March 31, 2010. Look here.)

Continued...

Word said...

To recap:

It seems not to be the case that being gay is probably just as much one’s fundamental nature as being black or white.

Here are some secular reasons for thinking this (gleaned from Benton’s letter):

• There is scientific evidence that an individual is born black or white, but not for being born gay or transgender.
• The scientific evidence for being born black or white is that it’s wholly biologically determined, but the scientific evidence for same-sex attraction is that it’s due primarily to social and familial factors/ influences.
• Unwanted blackness or whiteness cannot often be successfully treated, whereas unwanted same sex attraction can.
• Individual choices seem not to have an influence on our being black or white, whereas they have a role in being gay.

Word said...

Benton's letter can be found here.

jeffdod said...

Jeffrey:

Well, I would start by pointing out that thinking "that being gay or straight is probably just as much one's fundamental nature as being black or white" doesn't make it true. It is not a given.

You are asking me to discuss the issue using your rules (i.e. offering "secular" reasons) and to assume that your position is true without offering anything to back it up. However, when you make a statement like that, I think the burden of proof rests with you.

So...I would first ask you to explain how you came to this belief, and ask you to give me your evidence so I can consider it. Otherwise, I fear that I will misunderstand where you are coming from on the issue.

Philip said...

Jeffdod,

Inability or unwillingness to participate in the club's primary mission or activity does not preclude a student from participating in the club. The young lady who is physically or mentally unable to go sculling might still be club treasurer and cheer the other members louder than anyone. I was able to join and benefit from the Society of Women Engineers chapter on my campus, even though doing so did little to further the stated mission of the organization. If an individual is unruly and disruptive within the club then disciplinary action can be taken, but that is very different from setting qualifications that exclude part of the student body from membership or leadership.

As for Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), I don't understand how that ruling requires that the university subsidize such an organization.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Word:

The claims of ACP are not reliable. See here, to give just one example.

ACP should not be confused with the much older American Academy of Pediatrics. Even Francis Collins has distanced himself from ACP's claims.

jeffdod said...

Philip,

According to the bylaws still posted publically online at Hastings, university-recognized groups are only forbidden to exclude unlawfully.

Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995) is relevant because it establishes that it is currently legal to exclude from membership any individual who interferes with a group's ability to express a particular point of view.

The group in question did not exclude anyone unlawfully. In fact, if they had, they would be subject to prosecution...yet no one has implied that they are. Therefore, they should be granted the same privileges as any other recognized campus group, and if not, they are being discriminated against because of their beliefs.

As far as I am concerned, Hastings can do away with the concept of official recognition if they want. Or, they can change their bylaws and "un-recognize" all groups who exclude any members whatsoever. However, what they may not do is restrict freedom of speech or association, and that is what they are doing.

The reason I say this is that Hastings' policy is that if you are not an officially recognized group, you may not advertise in school newsletters or post anything publically on certain campus bulletin boards. Also, they may not participate publically in any school fairs where you invite others to join your group.

In other words, Hastings hasn't just taken away funding or subsidization of the group, they are preventing them from communicating publically on the property of a public university.

The example I gave of a woman in a sculling club who would not go near the water was not intended to have anything to do with handicapped people! Of course handicapped people should join such groups if they are interested. I was referring to a person who doesn't agree with or like the views of the group she was trying to join. My point was that it doesn't make sense for people to join groups if they don't agree with their beliefs, and it doesn't make sense to force such groups to accept everyone.

Finally, if you read the Supreme Court's dissenting paper on this case, you will see that to date, Hastings still has not been able to produce any documentation to show that they have an "accept-all-students" policy. Their only written policy (and by their own admission) the only policy they made known to this particular Christian group, is the one that prevents unlawful exclusion.

The published bylaws of other officially-recognized groups in fact demonstrate that Hastings never had such a policy. Examples of recognized campus student groups with exclusion policies include Hastings Democratic Caucus, Association of Trial Lawyers of America at Hastings, Vietnamese American Law Society, Silenced Right, and La Raza. These groups still enjoy "official" school recognition and may communicate freely on campus. Why can't the Christian group do the same?

jeffdod said...

Philip,

According to the bylaws still posted publically online at Hastings, university-recognized groups are only forbidden to exclude unlawfully.

Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995) is relevant because it establishes that it is currently legal to exclude from membership any individual who interferes with a group's ability to express a particular point of view.

The group in question did not exclude anyone unlawfully. In fact, if they had, they would be subject to prosecution...yet no one has implied that they are. Therefore, they should be granted the same privileges as any other recognized campus group, and if not, they are being discriminated against because of their beliefs.

As far as I am concerned, Hastings can do away with the concept of official recognition if they want. Or, they can change their bylaws and "un-recognize" all groups who exclude any members whatsoever. However, what they may not do is restrict freedom of speech or association, and that is what they are doing.

The reason I say this is that Hastings' policy is that if you are not an officially recognized group, you may not advertise in school newsletters or post anything publically on certain campus bulletin boards. Also, they may not participate publically in any school fairs where you invite others to join your group.

In other words, Hastings hasn't just taken away funding or subsidization of the group, they are preventing them from communicating publically on the property of a public university.

The example I gave of a woman in a sculling club who would not go near the water was not intended to have anything to do with handicapped people! Of course handicapped people should join such groups if they are interested. I was referring to a person who doesn't agree with or like the views of the group she was trying to join. My point was that it doesn't make sense for people to join groups if they don't agree with their beliefs, and it doesn't make sense to force such groups to accept everyone.

Finally, if you read the Supreme Court's dissenting paper on this case, you will see that to date, Hastings still has not been able to produce any documentation to show that they have an "accept-all-students" policy. Their only written policy (and by their own admission) the only policy they made known to this particular Christian group, is the one that prevents unlawful exclusion.

The published bylaws of other officially-recognized groups in fact demonstrate that Hastings never had such a policy. Examples of recognized campus student groups with exclusion policies include Hastings Democratic Caucus, Association of Trial Lawyers of America at Hastings, Vietnamese American Law Society, Silenced Right, and La Raza. These groups still enjoy "official" school recognition and may communicate freely on campus. Why can't the Christian group do the same?

Word said...

Jeffrey:

Yes, Francis Collins has “distanced himself” from the American College of Pediatricians, but distancing doesn’t equal refutation. In Collins' book, which ACP quotes, Collins points out that the genes involved in homosexuality “represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” So far, so good. However, in his distancing from ACP, Collins claims that a lack of genetic predetermination does not imply that orientation is alterable. Though true, this claim is problematic in the discussion context. The fact of a lack of genetic predetermination also does not imply that orientation is not alterable. This is where empirical evidence for the multiple other non-genetic factors—primarily social and familial—enters into the picture, and these other factors look like they are alterable. ACP points to these other factors (too), whereas Collins doesn’t.

For the ACP’s response to Collins, see here. For ACP’s replies to various questions and some critics, see here.

Back to your claim that being gay is “probably just as much one’s fundamental nature as being black or white”. In so far as being black or white isn’t due to social and family influences (which can be reinforced or undermined by choices) whereas being gay is, it looks like your claim is to that extent mistaken.

For more evidence of the disanalogy between homosexuality and race, see What Research Shows (by National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a summary of which can be found here.

Word said...

Jeffrey:

Yes, Francis Collins has “distanced himself” from the American College of Pediatricians, but distancing doesn’t equal refutation. In Collins' book, which ACP quotes, Collins points out that the genes involved in homosexuality “represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” So far, so good. However, in his distancing from ACP, Collins claims that a lack of genetic predetermination does not imply that orientation is alterable. Though true, this claim is problematic in the discussion context. The fact of a lack of genetic predetermination also does not imply that orientation is not alterable. This is where empirical evidence for the multiple other non-genetic factors—primarily social and familial—enters into the picture, and this is where these other factors look like they are alterable and thus make orientation alterable. ACP points to these other factors (too), whereas Collins doesn’t.

For the ACP’s response to Collins, see here. For ACP’s replies to various questions and some critics, see here.

Back to your claim that being gay is “probably just as much one’s fundamental nature as being black or white”. In so far as being black or white isn’t due to social and family influences (which can be reinforced or undermined by choices) whereas being gay is, it looks like your claim is to that extent mistaken.

For more evidence of the disanalogy between homosexuality and race, see What Research Shows (by National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a summary of which can be found here.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Jeffrey:

The issue is not on that high level of abstraction. The principle is not: all groups must receive sponsorship regardless of what qualifications they may have for leadership. The question is this: may religious groups be excluded from sponsorship solely because they require their members to embrace the tenets of that religion? Apparently not if and only if those tenets do not conflict with the state's opinion.

As I understand it, those with homosexual orientation were not forbidden from being CLS leaders if they were practicing Christians, liturgically, spiritually, and morally. Thus, the grounds were belief and practice, which is the essence of any religion.

Your counterexample, of course, is not about a belief or practice, and thus is not relevant to the case.

A better counterexample would be a religious group that only allowed men in leadership, like a "Catholic Priest Legal Society," a group of law students that happen to be ordained Catholic clergy.

Given Doug's egalitarianism, I'd be interested to know his thoughts on the matter.