Maintaining Cru’s voice on Campuses

Many of you know that I (Lori) work with the legal team for Campus Crusade for Christ. I work in the area of First Amendment/civil liberties issues for our student clubs around the United States.  We are facing challenges to our ability to remain on campus at certain schools due to the way they are interpreting their nondiscrimination clauses.

The Supreme Court recently decided not to take an appeal from the Ninth Circuit in a case called Alpha Delta v. Reed, coming out of San Diego State University. In that case, a Christian fraternity and sorority both had faith-based requirements for membership and leadership. The University said they could not be registered groups on campus because they did not comply with the nondiscrimination clause. The Ninth Circuit said it was an “incidental” burden to not have any of the privileges associated with being a registered group, and said there wasn’t evidence that the policy was intended to suppress religious viewpoints, so it was not viewpoint discrimination.  This is troublesome for us because it seems to indicate that nondiscrimination clauses will trump the speech and association rights of religious groups. Therefore, a group like ours, that has a desire to serve the campus and wants to allow anyone to be a member, yet wants leaders who believe in the purpose of the group, will not be allowed to be a registered student group without risking losing our Gospel-centered message.

Here is an excerpt from an article by FIRE (a nonprofit that focuses on defending individual rights in higher education) that expresses well the reason this case and the trends we are seeing in many areas of the law are troubling for the future of religious liberty in this country.

You don’t have much of a choice about, say, your race, but if you don’t like your religion, you can readily change it—or even start your own! That’s why telling non-Catholics that they can’t take Mass in a Catholic church has not usually been considered the moral equivalent of telling African-Americans that they can’t eat in your restaurant. But in the Ninth Circuit, it’s now legally acceptable for a university to treat those two decisions as morally equivalent and punish groups that make decisions based on people’s religious beliefs. That’s potentially deadly for America’s tradition of religious pluralism in the long run.

I am so thankful to live in a country that, so far, has protected speech and association rights that are not in the mainstream. I am also thankful to live in a country where all people, regardless of gender, lifestyle choices, or the color of their skin, are treated as equals, at least under the law. But when we begin to see our education systems, from the elementary level up to postgraduate institutions, dictating what beliefs are unacceptable because they don’t fit with the majority’s determination of “non-offensive religious beliefs,” I think we are headed down a very dangerous road that will strip the First Amendment of its meaning as applied to religious groups and organizations. I do not consider myself a republican or a democrat, but I am very concerned about many efforts being made by this Administration that I believe tear away in subtle but very evident ways at the religious liberties of groups and institutions (including their right to act on and make choices based upon what they believe).

Anyway, one of our biggest battles right now is at the private campus Vanderbilt University.  Vanderbilt, although they claim they have not changed their policy for student groups, has drastically altered it in practice. Last spring they started to clamp down on registered student groups to make sure they do not have any religious-based leadership requirements that would run afowl of the nondiscrimination clause.  The issue has continued to escalate and create tension between some evangelical groups and the Administration over the fall and Winter. At the end of January, the Administration held a townhall meeting in which the provost and vice chancellor tried to further “explain the policy.” It became very clear that Vanderbilt will not alter the policy in order to preserve the expressive rights of religious groups, and that they do not care if the groups are able to maintain a consistent message or preserve their mission.  The University, is imposing their pluralistic values on the RSOs instead of allowing for diversity among organizations that represent strongly a variety of viewpoints.  They believe it will improve groups to have people with contradictory beliefs vying for leadership because in the end, they think every group should come around to their particular framing of tolerance and diversity.  The provost and vice chancellor strongly implied that if a religious group is not willing to let anyone be a member of their group, and allow any member to run for leadership, then that group must be closed minded and participating in discrimination that the University will not tolerate.

Here is a brief excerpt from that meeting:

McCarty: . . . Now, let me give you another example and this would affect all of you.  I’m Catholic.  What if my faith beliefs guided all the decisions on a given day? 

Female Student: I think that they should.

McCarty: No, they shouldn’t.  No, they shouldn’t.  No, they shouldn’t.

. . .

McCarty: They can guide your personal conduct, but I am not going to let my faith life intrude.  I’ll do the best I can at making good decisions, but I’m not going to impose my beliefs on others.  I’m not going to do it.

The good news is that now there is a movement of students that are more vocal about their faith and why it is important to them that their groups keep the identity that they have. Our staff on the campus have been encouraged by students sharing their faith and talking with other students more about why their faith matters and why this issue troubles them.

We are now figuring out how to take a stand with several groups in the midst of the current registration process for student groups at Vanderbilt.  Please pray for the students in our Cru movements at Vanderbilt, as well as students from other clubs.  We want to preserve the strong message and mission of our groups there, and also be able to continue engaging students at Vanderbilt with the Good News of Jesus and the Gospel.

We are going to continue to face this ideological battle on college campuses, both private and public, all over the country. I could use your prayers as I continue to engage in this struggle.

 

Here are two great articles with further information on the issue at Vanderbilt—Well worth reading.

Here’s an article by Michael Paulson, Law Professor from Minnesota.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/03/4930

Here’s one in the Vanderbilt campus newspaper by our friend from InterVarsity at Vanderbilt, Tish.

http://www.insidevandy.com/opinion/article_b6af8340-63c1-11e1-8e77-001a4bcf6878.html

Advertisements

A Big Storm…

So right now there is thunder and it is raining icy rain. It will likely turn into snow tonight. It is always so crazy how fast the weather changes when a storm rolls in. The weather up here in Flagstaff was gorgeous all week–I was out raking pine needles, running around in bare feet with the kids, and even watching our bulbs in the back yard start peeking up out of the ground. And now they will probably be buried under a foot of snow.

I think life is like this sometimes too. We can feel like we are cruising along really enjoying family life and ministry, and then a bump in the road comes.  Sometimes it completely shatters the peaceful feeling of everything. I can begin to see the glass as half empty instead of half full in every area of life. And why? Because of a circumstance…

That is not how I want to live life.  No matter what happens to us, God does not change who he is or how much he loves us. When the kids are going through a season of temper tantrums, it doesn’t change how God sees me or them–we are still his precious children, and my life in Him is secure.  When ministry isn’t going as well as I would like, it doesn’t change that God WILL receive glory and honor when I continue to point to Him with my words and life, and that the truth of the GOSPEL shines even brighter in the darkness of hurting lives.

I was recently reading in Colossians, and was impressed once again by the joy and thanksgiving and “Christ-as-all” focus that Paul has throughout the whole book. And those things do not change under any circumstance, because of what Christ HAS accomplished–it is done, secure.  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14)

The test of time…

So Time is something that I constantly battle with.  That sounds strange, as time is not an animate thing, but I guess I am actually battling with myself over how best to use my time, which is so fleeting.

I think of Ephesians 5:15-16, which says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

I want to live for God first and foremost, and I know that I walk in the light of His grace and truth, to guide and help me make wise choices, but it is still hard to know how to use my time best. And lets face it, there just isn’t enough of it if I plan to sleep.  As a mother of 3 who is also does ministry and legal work, wants to build friendships with local moms, and would like to occasionally read and maintain some hobbies–I feel like I never get enough time for any of those categories…  So my struggle lies in two areas.

1. The Big Picture. So my kids are in the early years that are so essential in framing their sense of self, of love, of God, of family, and of the World. I want to focus on them as key priority (after God and Jeremiah). I also want to model for them living in the world with a servant’s heart. But I don’t want them to feel like they are second tier to other things, and I don’t want to miss out on really noticing and seeing their little minds and hearts develop and grow. There are pressures, internal and external, to always be doing more–many things that are wonderful and even Christ-focused. I am seeking to involve my children in ministry and want to start doing more community service with them too, but often it still feels like conflicting desires are pulling on my time.  I also do love working for Cru, and I know there is always more that could be done, both on campus and for the Legal team.  Yet these years are so fleeting…and won’t those things still be there to invest more time in later? But the needs I see around me are great now too…So I continue to try to do it all–be a playmate, take care of the home, and squeeze in those other things. But what gets squeezed out?

2. The Day to Day: This is where the rubber meets the road. How do I actually use my hours each day? When do I check email? When do I stop working after quiet time is over and Bethany is sitting waiting for me to come back and play dolls again? When do I plan for meals and shopping and prepare for discipleship? What about those work phone calls that are scheduled during my normal play or school time with Bethany and Judah?

Well, I struggle with these things. But I can either be enslaved to time, or I can seek the Lord, ask to be filled with the Spirit, and trust that he will give me grace for my foibles and wisdom for my choices. I cannot be supermom or superstaffwoman. I can be a woman in need of God’s grace, who seeks to “work heartily, as to the Lord and not for men” in each area of life.  I find peace again in the Gospel. If I focus on Christ and point my own heart to Him and direct others to see His goodness, then I can trust that my choices will reflect him as a whole (even when some of them are counterproductive in the moment). My children know that I love them and that I love to be with them and provide for them. But they also hopefully see that my life is driven by something so much bigger than our family–by the God who made the Universe, who knows each person by name, and who wants us to be part of his eternal plan to bring freedom, justice, forgiveness, hope and love (through Christ) to the whole World. I pray that the choices I make with my time reflect that reality.

My precious children

I do learn so much from my children. They teach me so much about God and about myself. I definitely did not understand how God could love us (disobedient, obstinate people) so much, but now I do. I love my children so much that it hurts, even when they directly disobey me and give me an angry face in response to my reminders (hopefully gently stated, although not always).  I guess that is where the learning about myself comes in – I have learned about my own sin more since having children. I used to think I was a pretty good person, but now I know that I am messed up–someone who struggles to be patient and deals with frustration that bubbles up into anger pretty quick sometimes.  The funny thing is that I am happier now than I was when I thought I was “pretty good” because the gospel has much deeper meaning to me. I see God more clearly for who He is and how incredibly radical His love and grace are, when I see myself more fully for who I am. Therefore I am able to value who I am IN CHRIST all the more, because I know it is not my own doing in any way. And that is the essence of true freedom.  Grace appears, “training me to renounce ungodliness” (Titus 2:11-15) waaaay better than my resolutions ever did.  I am a better mother to my children, a better wife, a better mentor to the students I work with, and a better friend when I walk in the freedom of that grace. Thank you LORD!

So what little things have my precious ones been doing lately that has caught my attention:

Isaiah: my busy bookworm.  Isaiah has a hunger for reading and figuring out how tImagehe world works, and has been consuming story books and even chapter books at an amazing rate. He loves legos and can focus on them for hours, creating fascinating things that reflect his active imagination, but he also loves using that imagination outside, digging and building and pretending with whatever he finds. He loves to learn about spiritual things, and likes to share his thoughts and conclusions if you can get him talking–he is such a deep thinker. He likes written instructions and rules, and will seek to follow them carefully. Yet, paradoxically, he has a tremendously difficult time focusing on verbal instructions, and often seems unable to follow through on them. He hates seeing anything involving disobedience in a movie or book (literally cannot keep watching or reading), yet he seems to be unable to see his own disobedience and disregard for rules in the moment because he is so focused on what he thinks “should be” that he doesn’t even know what he is doing.  I am learning a lot being his mother because he is so honest and genuine and sensitive, and yet absentminded and unable to get outside of his thoughts (if that makes any sense).  I am learning how to love him where he is and give him grace by figuring out how to communicate in ways that he will hear and (hopefully/prayerfully) internalize.

Bethany: my little pixie. Bethany loves telling stories and pretending. She embodies theImage characters she makes up in her play.  One thing that is true of Bethany is that her face (and the way she carries her whole body, really) is a perfect portal into what she is thinking and or imagining. When she is being a “dancer,” she has a confident, graceful air; when she is a “mommy,” she has a loving “I’m reminding you to behave” look; when she is a teacher, she has a “you really must know about this interesting fact” air about her. When she is watching something and/or listening to a story, I have only to look up at her face, and she gives me a melodramatic look to reveal what she is thinking about what is going on.  And when she is disobeying, I see etched in her face either stubborn anger or complete devastation at having been found out.  In being her mommy, I am learning how to walk in humility before her and with her, because I fear her biggest temptation will be to always “perform” for the approval of others. Knowing this is a weakness of mine, I long to model embracing the grace of God fully as a needy sinner.

Judah: my active athlete. Judah makes us all smile all the time. He is in the stage of Imageimitating every sound we make and motion we do. But he also has a mind of his own. He must throw or kick any and every ball he sees (even ones in stores). He must climb anything that he sees (including scary and particularly high stools and playground equipment). And he must tackle any family member who is sitting down in a position that is particularly “tackle-able” (whatever he thinks that means). He loves to say his own name (often claiming things as his own) and his brother and sister’s names. It is so cute how much he loves them and wants to be with them.  He is also Mommy’s little cuddlebug. I love how he wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes, and how he curls his head onto my shoulder when he is tired and wants a cuddle. I am learning from him just how unique each child is, and how both loving on and disciplining must be adjusted to the needs of each child. He may be my second boy, but he is so different from Isaiah–it is fun to discover more and more of his personality each day.

I thank God for these precious gifts He has entrusted to me!

Our debut

We are going to be shifting our ministry and personal updates to this new page. I will be learning how to use the tools here and look forward to sharing some reflections and funny stories about our kids and family life.

I put our story in the “About us” tab, and will be adding more details to the blog as I go along.