George Will has an important article on Vanderbilt University’s decision to forbid certain student groups, including Christian ones, from precluding someone from leadership positions based on their religious belief. As Will puts it: “To ensure diversity of thought and opinion, we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting the characterisitics that contribute to diversity.”

Will surveys the historical momentum behind these increasingly common moves to limit freedom of association, and traces it to progressivism’s convenient abolition of the public-private distinction:

First, a human right — to, say, engage in homosexual practices — is deemed so personal that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Next, this right breeds another right, to the support or approval of others. Finally, those who disapprove of it must be coerced.

Sound familiar? It should. First, abortion should be an individual’s choice. Then, abortion should be subsidized by government. Next, pro-life pharmacists who object to prescribing abortifacients should lose their licenses. Thus do rights shrink to privileges reserved for those with government-approved opinions.

Will argues that Vanderbilt’s concern should not be whether a particular religious viewpoint is right, but whether people have the freedom to associate and believe such things. He concludes.

Vanderbilt’s policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives’ struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.

Read the whole article here.


  • Bob Kellemen

    Great article, well-articulated.