THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is the resolution of a recent controversy involving the late Jerry Falwell’s college in Virginia, which no longer wanted to allow its students to organize an official Democratic student group on campus.
Liberty University’s College Democrats again will be recognized by the school after the two sides reached a compromise, school and club officials say.
Controversy ensued last month after the school announced it was revoking official recognition for the chapter, citing moral beliefs held by its parent organization. Specifically, Liberty was upset with the national Democrats’ views supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
In an agreement announced Tuesday, whose terms begin with the fall semester, Liberty will classify all political clubs as “unofficial” — meaning they will not receive any funding from the institution, but can use its facilities. According to the university’s new policy, posted on its Web site, such groups will be able to use Liberty’s name “as long as they make it clear they are not being endorsed by the university.”
As compromises go, this may not sound like much of a deal for the College Dems, but Liberty will now at least treat College Democrats and Republicans equally.
“We had no policy governing unofficial clubs before all of this controversy,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a statement. “The new policy will allow Liberty to protect its Christian mission and at the same time will allow the political clubs to achieve their objectives.”
College Democrats Secretary Jan Derwish told CNN, “Our goal throughout this whole situation was to be put on the same playing field as our counterparts. I believe it is a fair compromise.”
Liberty had more to consider than bad publicity and magnanimity — the evangelical college was facing an IRS complaint because it’s a tax-exempt institution that wanted to favor one political party over another. The compromise effectively ends the controversy.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The drive to make the visitor center on Capitol Hill a little more religious is gaining steam: “The House Administration Committee has unanimously approved a resolution directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the National Motto — ‘In God We Trust’ – and the Pledge of Allegiance inside the new Capitol Visitor Center.”
* And this week, when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) returned to the United States and acknowledged his adulterous affair, he made an oblique reference to “C Street” in his remarks. The comment has renewed interest in a secretive spiritual haven in D.C.: “On any given day, the rowhouse at 133 C St. SE — well appointed, with American flag flying, white-and-green-trimmed windows and a pleasant garden — fills with talk of power and the Lord. At least five congressmen live there, quietly renting upstairs rooms from an organization affiliated with ‘the Fellowship,’ the obsessively secretive Arlington spiritual group that organizes the National Day of Prayer breakfast, an event routinely attended by legions of top government officials. Other politicians come to the house for group spirituality sessions, prayer meetings or to simply share their troubles.”