Christian a cappella chorus at UNC says gay member is singing off key
✔ There seem to be an abundance of collisions at the intersection of Christian Street and Gay Way. The latest is in Chapel Hill, and it has the UNC campus roiled.
Members of an a cappella group called Psalm 100, which identifies itself as Christian, voted unanimously to oust senior Will Thomason, who has been singing with the group since his freshman year.
Blake Templeton, general director of the group, said Thomason was not removed for his sexual orientation now that he has come out, but for his opinions about homosexuality. He said the views clash with the ideology of the Bible, which the organization’s constitution mandates members must uphold.
That's Templeton's interpretation of the Bible, by the way. So far as Thomason's being gay, that's fine with Templeton and the rest of the singers. It's just his opinions.
(A Deputy Fact Checker has been in touch with a Loyal Reader, who says Duke also has a Christian a cappella group, Sapphire, which disallows non-Christians.)
If you think that is confusing, wait until you understand the fine line UNC must walk in responding. Adhering to Supreme Court decisions, UNC lets students associate with whomever they want. However, the university does not allow you to draw your circle based upon who other people are, which is to say race or sex orientation.
It may come down to this: whether UNC student funds will continue to be used to fund this chorus. The singers may be allowed to warble their forked version of Christianity on campus or off, but not with other people's money backing them.
UNC's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said. "We are on notice that there is a question as to whether or not a student organization has acted in compliance with the (anti-discrimination) policy or not,” Crisp said. “We take that very seriously and that will be investigated.”
This is very healthy.
Compare this, please, to the response that Duke's Justin Robinette got from the administration a year ago, when leadership of the campus Republicans met at night, changed the by-laws without telling anyone, and ousted Robinette because he was in the process of coming out.
There was -- in addition to ousting the chair -- also a pattern of harassing and discriminatory conduct by the Republican leaders who did this:
Constantly referring to gay people as "Shit on Dicks," a phrase for which this campus is indebted to Carter Boyle.
Continuing with a racist internal memo that grew uglier by the line, beginning with the suggestion blacks could be attracted to the GOP table on the plaza by boom box music.
And winding up with GOP stalwart Rachel Provost approaching Robinette at President Brodhead's Homecoming Dance, and telling her fellow student she saw a hickey on his neck, and wanted to know if it was planted by a male or female.
The pattern for the Duke response was set by President Brodhead, who refused and refused time and time again to see Robinette -- until he was granted five minutes.
The student government, including the judiciary, only considered the issue of group blame: whether the Republicans as a club had discriminated. Answer: no, they had not. Even though the Republicans all walked together like penguins, this was not their club speaking, only individuals.
And Duke declined to pursue the individuals for their gross misconduct. A witness to conduct that would, in our opinion, merit expulsion stepped forward and wrote FC. With permission, we passed that e-mail along to Vice President for Student Life Larry Moneta. He never contacted the witness.
It is one thing to say there is not enough evidence. It is another to disagree with FC on the penalty for this offense. It is quite another to fail to interview a witness. This surely ranks as the low point in L-Mo's career at Duke.
At UNC, the student government was scheduled to meet last evening. Its vice president has taken the lead.
At Duke, the student government waffled and the student judiciary failed. Though the leadership of the GOP club lined up like penguins and voted just as Robinette was coming out, the decision was that the club members acted as individuals, which was OK.
We can only hope for a better outcome at UNC.