The recent flap about the departure of Lisa Howe, the soccer coach at Belmont University, over the issue of her gay orientation is only interesting because anybody is surprised. Belmont is a private institution; it takes no tax dollars, so it may do as it pleases. That it discriminates according to its religious leanings is the worst-kept secret in Nashville.
Religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly…they’re all a bit messy. If I want to practice, and say, and meet how and with whom I please, then I must zealously guard those same freedoms for my compatriots, no matter how mean-spirited and short-sighted the expressions of those freedoms may seem to me.
In 1978, the American Civil Liberties Union defended the right of American Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, despite the vehement objections of the local Jewish community, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. Somehow, the ACLU has become the most reviled entity in the world to conservatives, who seem not to recognize that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
“We do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don’t want to make apologies for that,” said Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont’s board of trustees. Nor should he have to. His understanding of Christ’s teachings excludes two ladies from living together and raising a child; others at Belmont believe differently, but they’re not in charge.
Most recently, Belmont claims no official discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet they have declined to recognize the gay student group as a sanctioned campus organization.
For those of us who disagree with Belmont’s stand, there are other places to work, go to school, meet and hold presidential debates. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., suggested we “pray with our feet.” Let’s go people. Out.