A Christian university in California is defending its decision to forbid students from aligning with the Young America’s Foundation – arguing that the conservative organization has views that are contrary to their “Christ-centered” philosophy – and the group might promote “overtly partisan” discourse.
Azusa Pacific University said they support much of what YAF stands for “including its goal of preserving the U.S. Constitution, its values, and the God-given rights that we are guaranteed in that precious document.”
“However, YAF uses divisive language and embraces some forms of political activism that do not align with who we are as a university,” the university declared in a written statement.
The controversy started last week when students who were part of the university’s Young Conservative club asked to change their name and formally associate with YAF by becoming a member of their Young America’s Foundation.
In addition to promoting individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values, YAF owns and preserves the Reagan Ranch.
YAF vice president Patrick Coyle told Fox News that the request to join was turned down by university officials.
“They were told by the administrators that they could not change their name because they had looked at our website and didn’t like the language we used,” Coyle said. “I asked if there were any written rules the students had violated and he said no. He said it was just their opinion.”
Jennifer Walsh, the associate dean for Azusa Pacific’s college of liberal arts, told Fox News that the university’s student life director “was a little troubled” by some of the language.
“We are sensitive to the need to make sure we are keeping our Christ-centered identity first and not allow students to align themselves with groups that are overtly partisan,” she said.
Coyle said the specific language they took issue with is:
“Are you tired of liberal ideas dominating your campus? Are you tired of liberal and Marxist professors indoctrinating your classmates? Do you want to advance conservatism?
“If you answered yes, then you should start a Young Americans For Freedom chapter. YAF chapters make a difference by boldly advancing freedom and conservatism.
“Radical feminists, big government bureaucrats, fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists, and run of the mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about promoting conservative ideas.”
Walsh said the club would not be a good fit on the private Christian campus.
“It wasn’t so much that YAF is promoting conservative views – it was more that it didn’t match the climate on campus,” she said. “It might encourage discourse that is overtly partisan.”
Azusa Pacific officials stressed that they welcome and support “students to engage in open political dialogue, including those with a conservative viewpoint.”
The university has an existing campus club for conservatives as well as progressives.
“APU has supported and will continue to support open and honest discourse on a variety of political opinions and ideas,” their statement read. “We strive to avoid those polarizing discussions commonly found in secular society, and instead encourage our community to examine political issues from a biblical worldview, to model civic virtue for our campus community and to encourage spiritual unity in Christ.”
Ashley Blackwell, the student who asked to launch the YAF chapter, told Brietbart.com that she was disappointed with the university’s decision.
“It is really disappointing that a school, which promotes diversity and uses the mantra ‘everyone matters’, would ban an existing club from changing her name,” she told the website.
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