Jay, just a few days ago I was a participant in an event on “church politicking” at the National Press Club here in Washington. The event was reported by your friends over at the Christian Broadcasting Network. The focus of that afternoon was principally on whether pastors do or do not have the right to endorse candidates in sermons. The Tax Code suggests they do not–and I argued that was the correct position.
Today, the Washington Post reports that Liberty University, founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, has just terminated the right of the Democratic student club to be recognized at the university. Effectively, Liberty has declared itself a Democratic Party-free zone. This is quite shocking, violating basic tenets of free speech, free association, and even religious liberty (can’t you be a Democrat and religious?).
Perhaps just as significantly, this seems to violate the principle that tax exempt universities cannot engage in partisan political activity. Americans United had filed a complaint with the IRS back in December of 2007 when the current Liberty chancellor, and son of the founder, sent out an email endorsement of then-candidate Mike Huckabee for the Republican presidential nomination. With the boot now given to the Democrats Club on campus, it looks like we have mounting evidence of a pattern of partisan, pro-Republican conduct.
I hope you will join me in calling this what it is: ill-advised, unlawful censorship of student speech. The university from whose law school your son graduated this year (congratulations there), Regent University, permits a Democrats club as it should and, indeed, I believe, must.