A list of some news stories about religion on campus that appeared during the month of May

June 10, 2011

Washington University in St. Louis gives Muslim students halal food as an option in the cafeteria. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch via The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

$40 million gift allows Claremont School of Theology to train rabbis, imams. Los Angeles Times via The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University accused of tolerating Islamic extremists. Sen. Bill Ketron, the Tennessee state senator behind an anti-terrorism bill that Muslims say unfairly targets them distributed to fellow legislators a video making the accusation. The Tennessean via The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Roman Catholic professors accuse House Speak John Boehner of abandoning Catholic teachings on social justice. The accusations came as Boehner prepared to be the commencement speaker at Catholic University and focused on the Republican budget priorities in the House of Representatives. Inside Higher Ed. For the aftermath and come thoughtful commentary, see Clayton Sinyai’s post in America: The National Catholic Weekly.

Wheaton (IL) provost discusses recent articles about the treatment of homosexual students at Christian colleges, and argues that these colleges can be supportive of gay students. Some of the article writers reply. Inside Higher Ed.

National Labor Relations Board ruled that St. Xavier University in Chicago lacks enough of a religious character to be exempt from provisions of federal labor law. Adjuncts are entitled to a vote on a union. Article provides background and discusses another case at Manhattan College in New York. Inside Higher Ed.

Goshen College decides to end playing an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Will find another way to honor the country consistent with the college’s pacifist, Mennonite faith. Inside Higher Ed.


Gay students struggle for acceptance at evangelical schools

April 21, 2011

The New York Times [subscription may be required] has an article exploring how gay and lesbian students are struggling for acceptance at various evangelical Christian colleges and universities that see homosexual practice as a sin. The students want to be open about their sexual identity and to be able to form campus clubs. The schools often oppose such moves. The article draws examples from Baylor University, Belmont University, Abilene Christian University, Harding University, and North Central University (in Minneapolis).


Evolution and accreditation at an Adventist university

April 21, 2011

Inside Higher Ed has a detailed article on the going dispute between La Sierra University, in Riverside, CA, and its sponsoring denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, on whether and how the school may teach evolution alongside the church’s teachings regarding six-day creation. The dispute began when a biology professor insisted that a student had to demonstrate an understanding of evolutionary theory before delving into creationist arguments.

In the controversy, La Sierra is caught between two accrediting groups using different measuring sticks. There is the Adventist association, which measures the university’s fidelity to church beliefs and judges whether it will remain an Adventist institution. And there is the academic accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, which includes measures of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in its evaluation. WASC renewed La Sierra’s accreditation for another eight years in August 2010.

The dispute has financial implications as well as religious and educational. The University receives $4 million in support from the denomination.


St. John’s won’t recognize gay-straight alliance; Students protest

April 21, 2011

Students at St. John’s University in New York are protesting the University’s decision not to recognize a gay-straight alliance. University officials explain that they cannot recognize any group that is inconsistent with Roman Catholic teachings. Students point to what they see as inconsistencies in the policy.

"We need a gay-straight alliance at St. John’s for the same reason that there are organizations for other minorities," said senior Tim Spriggs, 20, of Columbia, Md.

The school is "ignoring a significant part of the student population," said Spriggs, who is not gay.

Students were also quick to point out that the school allows a slew of ethnic and religious organizations, including Jewish and Muslim groups.

[The New York Daily News via Inside Higher Ed]


Marquette U. to offer domestic partner benefits

April 7, 2011

Marquette plans to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees in 2012.

The decision by Marquette comes nearly after a year after the school announced that it was rescinding a job offer to Jodi O’Brien, a lesbian and scholar at Seattle University, involving concerns relating to Marquette’s "Catholic mission and identity" and their incompatibility with some of O’Brien’s scholarly writings.

The university said at the time that the decision to rescind the job offer did not have anything to do with O’Brien’s sexual orientation.

The State of Wisconsin gives legal recognition both to marriage for heterosexual couples and to a registered domestic partnership for same-sex couples.

In a statement Marquette President Robert A. Wild said, “If we are truly pastoral in our application of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, I asked myself if I could reconcile that with denying health benefits to a couple who have legally registered their commitment to each other.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Inside Higher Ed]


Rabbinical students win state tuition aid in New York

April 7, 2011

The New York state budget calls for cuts aid to public education by 10 percent but adds $18 million in tuition assistance for students attending some private religious schools. The major potential beneficiaries are men attending Orthodox rabbinical schools as undergraduates.

[The New York Times (subscription may be required) via Inside Higher Ed]


A widening gap between Catholic youth and their spiritual leaders

April 7, 2011

Michael O’Loughlin, one of the bloggers at America:The National Catholic Weekly offers reflections and useful links on the widening gap between Catholic laity in America, especially young people, and their spiritual leaders and teachers, especially on homosexuality. His suggestion:

Despite the campaigns, statements, and preaching, lay Catholics lead the nation in support of gay rights. At some point, something has to give. Will the church change its stance on homosexuality? Of course not. Catholicism is the largest denomination in the US, but it is still a tiny sliver of the global church, and attitudes elsewhere, especially in the growing hotspots of global Catholicism, remain rigidly conservative. But church leaders may want to reconsider where they focus their limited time, energy, and resources. The battle for gay rights in this nation increasingly looks like it will be won-eventually-by those who support them. The church can continue to be a vocal minority in opposition to change, alienating the many people who increasingly know, love, and accept gay family members and friends. Or, it can refocus its efforts to highlight the love of God that animates a nourishing, life-giving, freeing faith, and attempt to reach those who need this love most: those who feel marginalized by the church now.


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