Monday, March 24, 2014

Stanford University Labels Traditional Marriage Conference "Hate Speech"

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Stanford University has a strange way of practicing "tolerance" and "free speech."

This was on full display a little over a week ago when the Stanford Student Body officers declined a request from the Stanford Anscombe Society for some funding for their conference. The funding was primarily to cover the cost of security for their event.

All approved clubs or associations regularly apply for funding for their conferences. The funding comes through the University, from student fees, etc.

It was not the fact that they requested funds that caught public attention, it was the reason for being denied.

The Anscombe Society was officially denied funds for what they called a "Communicating Values Conference."

The university administration said officially that there were no funds available, but it was apparent there was much more at play than dollars.

Why no tolerance for this group? And what about free speech?

Student Body leadership said that if they allowed funding to the group, that would constitute approving of "hate speech."

But the SAS doesn't hate anybody. Neither do they have any formal religious or political affiliations.

SAS says they only focus on "human principles."

They said, "Our aim is to help university students and young adults to promote the values of marriage, family and sexual integrity to the broader culture. Featuring speakers at the forefront of this effort, the conference will allow students to network with individuals who are willing to engage in intellectual and civil discourse about the issues of marriage, family and sexual integrity."

Are discussions about traditional marriage, family and sexual integrity now silenced on university campuses?

The Anscombe Society apparently takes their name---although I didn't find that reference on their website, from Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe who taught at both Oxford and Cambridge.

Simply stated she advocated for "concepts of obligation and duty"---moral obligation and moral duty---and identifying what is morally right and morally wrong.

She talked about and wrote a great deal about "consequences". In fact she popularized the term "consequencialism."

While I do not agree with some of the positions she held on other issues, I strongly believe in what these students are doing.

My point here is that these students hold the traditional and biblical view of marriage, family and sexual integrity and because of this view Stanford University leadership labels it "hate speech."

Here's what they say about themselves on their Stanford Anscombe Society website.

"The Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) is a student group that promotes discussion regarding the roles of the family, marriage, and sexual integrity in the lives of Stanford students both now and after graduation. SAS is neither religiously nor politically affiliated, instead basing our positions on human principles. We hold that the family is the key unit of a stable society, and we define the family as one man and one woman bound together by marriage, along with any children that they might have. SAS defines marriage as a union, until death, between one man and one woman. We promote the idea that sexual integrity is necessary for this family unit to be successful."

So why would Stanford leadership take such a strong position against open and intellectual discussion about marriage and family?

Well, The Stanford Daily newspaper answers that.

They reported that, "Bringing the speakers to Stanford would threaten the safety of campus for the queer population, according to Brianne Huntsman '15, who started a Facebook event to organize a rally at the GSC meeting."

Huntsman told The Stanford Daily, "A lot of students who are queer come to Stanford because it's one of the most LGBT- friendly places in the world." He said, "I grew up in Utah, where it was really conservative and a lot of us come from similar backgrounds, and we feel that way every time we go home. Stanford is supposed to be a safe space for us."

Many have believed a university was supposed to be about education, not creating a safe space for people of various sexual behaviors.

This reasoning, which influenced the vote against The Stanford Anscombe Society, suggests that the goal of the University is more about affirming a behavior than about intellectual integrity.

Does this decision suggest that tolerance is a one way street serving only those who demand that marriage and family be redefined?


SAS planned to move forward with or without the funding.

However, this story got out to the real world, and there was more than a little push back by the less enlightened folks who still believe in marriage as between a man and a woman, traditional family and moral virtue. And consequences.

The SAS also wrote a letter to Stanford provost John W. Etchemendy requesting the university "waive the security fee since that fee imposed a tax on free speech."

So---guess what happened Friday?

SAS put out a press release announcing that Stanford has now contacted them and told them they have "found some money" and can give them the requested funds.

The SAS group is now able to expand the conference and have more speakers and "discussion" about marriage, family and sexual integrity.

One issue that I personally believe was a problem to Stanford is that Ryan T. Anderson from the Heritage Foundation is a scheduled primary speaker. He is a very articulate communicator. He is also highly qualified to speak on the topic and strongly advocates biblical marriage and values.

Christine Roesselle with Town Hall who has been following this story wrote Saturday, "Let's put this one in the 'Victory On Campus' column."

I agree.

The Stanford Anscombe Society is part of a network of about 25 Anscombe Societies. They have organized on campuses like Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and other similar universities. They are operating under the "Love and Fidelity Network."

It's important that we are informed regarding the battles our kids are faced with on campuses across this nation.

It is equally important that we know there are students who are not compromising their faith, but taking a strong stand for biblical Truth and values, including marriage and family and sexual virtue.

It would seem sometimes that the tide is moving against biblical values, particularly in this generation, but I also see a rising in this generation. They are smart, they are educated and they believe in marriage and family and virtue, because they hold a biblical worldview.

When human endeavors and societal systems fail, the Truth and the power of the gospel rises. While they may not be a majority, there are those kids on the campuses of America who are carrying the banner, and they are carrying it well.

Pray for them.

Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.