By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
CHAPEL HILL — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has upheld the right of a Christian singing group to expel a member whose views on homosexuality do not line up with the Bible.
Late last summer, the a cappella group Psalm 100 came under fire when it ousted senior Will Thomason. While the school’s anti-discrimination policy says a student cannot be excluded from a group based on “sexual orientation,” it does say that “student organizations that select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs (e.g., religious or political beliefs) may limit membership and participation in the organization to students who … support the organization’s goals and agree with its beliefs.”
Campus student affairs vice chancellor Winston Crisp wrote in an Oct. 14 letter to Psalm 100 that “after a thorough and careful investigation” the university could find no evidence contradicting the group’s position that Thomason was expelled because of his beliefs, not his sexual orientation.
“This is a victory for free speech and freedom of religion,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We’re glad to know that Psalm 100 will not be penalized for holding fast to Biblical standards.”
While the Daily Tar Heel decried the University’s ruling and demanded that the anti-discrimination policy be revised, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education pointed out the wisdom in allowing “belief-based groups to make belief-based decisions when it comes to membership and leadership.”
“By adhering to its policy, UNC has acknowledged America’s commitment to religious pluralism, allowing Christian groups to be Christian, Jewish groups to be Jewish, Muslim groups to be Muslim, and so forth,” FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy William Creeley wrote on the organization’s Web site.
FIRE had intervened on behalf of Psalm 100, writing a letter to the UNC Chancellor, asking that any investigation of Psalm 100’s actions be “straightforward and brief …” and that the university would “have the wisdom to follow its own policy ….”
Interestingly enough, the university launched the investigation into Psalm 100 even though no one had filed a complaint about the student’s dismissal from the group.
“While it should not have taken a month and a half of ‘investigation’ to determine that Psalm 100 had followed UNC’s policy, we are glad that the university made the right call,” wrote FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “All religious and political groups at UNC can now rest easy knowing that they will not have to compromise their beliefs in order to participate in the life of the college.”
To read the entire letter from Vice Chancellor Winston Crisp clearing Psalm 100, click here