Not So Much Liberty

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, May 30, 2009 | Published in

Waaay back in February I mentioned that Regent University finally got their own Democratic student organization. I didn't realize it at the time but Liberty University, the college started by the late Jerry Falwell, was getting it's own Democratic organization at almost the same time. Well, that didn't last very long:
Liberty University will no longer recognize its campus Democratic club because, officials say, the national party's platform goes against the conservative Christian school's moral principles.

Officials at the private Lynchburg school, which was founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, said they made the decision after receiving complaints from trustees, parents and donors.

"They really are great kids and good friends of mine," said Jerry Falwell Jr., who became the school's chancellor after his father died in 2007. "It's just an issue of what Liberty's mission is."
I guess the liberty to have an opposing political view is not in Liberty's mission. Liberty later decided that the Democratic club could use the college's resources if certain conditions were met:
According to Falwell, whose father founded LU in 1971, Democratic clubs have existed at Liberty University over the last several decades but as unofficial student clubs not endorsed by the school.

Then, last fall, the College Democrats asked the university to officially recognize their club, thus granting them permission to use Liberty University’s name, hold public events on campus, and receive a small financial subsidy that only officially recognized clubs are eligible for.

To be recognized, however, Liberty asked the club to insert two clauses into their constitution – one stating that they are a pro-life organization and the other that they support the traditional view of marriage.
Translation: You can have your Democratic club as long as all of the members are Republicans.

The drama doesn't end there though. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has decided to get in on the act:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is asking the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of Liberty University after the school’s decision to “unrecognize” the student-run College Democrats.

In a letter to the IRS, Americans United (AU) president Barry W. Lynn said he believes Liberty University (LU) may have violated federal tax law in denying recognition to the College Democrats while extending it to a Republican organization.

“As a tax-exempt institution, Liberty is barred from intervening in elections or showing preference for one political party over another,” Lynn wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.

“By banning a Democratic club while permitting a Republican club to exist and offering funding to the latter but not the former, university officials appear to be operating in violation of federal tax law,” he added. “I urge you to investigate this matter and ensure that the law is enforced.”

Meanwhile Liberty University did the legal equivalent of NO U by filing their own complaint against Americans United:
Liberty Counsel plans to file a complaint on Monday, June 1 against Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of Liberty University in response to claims that the University did not abide by IRS regulations for a nonprofit organization when it dropped endorsement of the school's College Democrats club.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said Liberty's recent action "had nothing to do with the political nature of the club" and was "solely based upon the moral issues of abortion and marriage."

"Liberty will not lend its name or funds to support any group -- Republican, Democrat, Independent or non-political -- that supports abortion or same-sex marriage," he said. "Liberty's action has nothing to do with favoring Republicans or Democrats."
So round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows...

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