Lieutenant Island Views : Commentary About Finance, Politics and Baseball

Liberty University Bans College Democrats. So Much for Personal Liberty at Liberty! | May 24, 2009

Liberty University recently announced that it is banning the College Democratic Club from its campus. As has been reported, Liberty’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Mark Hine, advised the student group that the Democratic Party violated the University’s principles because it supports abortion, socialism and the agenda of gay, bisexual and transgender people. The basis for the ban is the non-binding Democratic Party Platform from the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Many registered Democrats and elected Democratic officials would dispute the decision on the basis of fact. For proof of this assertion, one only needs to examine the views of pro-life Senator Bob Casey or gay groups who are angry at President Obama for his failure to invalidate “Don’t ask don’t tell” in the US Military. They know first hand that the Democratic Platform is neither enforceable nor something that is universally supported by leading elected Democrats.

This action represents a dangerous step for an educational institution. Depending on one’s perspective, issues can range from the denial of free speech to jeopardizing the University’s not for profit status by directly engaging in partisan politics as opposed to taking positions on individual issues. Unlike a recent decision by Brigham Young University-Idaho to ban both the Democratic and Republican clubs in order to protect its tax exempt status and eliminate any potential charge of the institution supporting one or another political party, Liberty is singling out the Democrats as a group and taking no action against the Republican College Club.

The loss of tax exempt status could have a material adverse impact on Liberty’s economic condition. Loss of not for profit status would jeopardize funding from public and private programs for research, scholarships and other essentials. It could also hurt fundraising from contributors who would no longer be able to claim a tax deduction for their gifts.

As a self proclaimed “conservative” institution with strong supporters in segments of the Christian community, they should question whether a significant potential economic loss is worth any perceived benefit in denying the rights to free speech for what is likely to be an insignificant number of students at the school. Such an action to deny a liberty by a school named Liberty raises the specter of both losing moral standing and making its name synonymous with something new; hypocrisy.

Libertarians (as opposed to Liberty alumni) and civil libertarians alike should come to the defense of the Democratic Club at Liberty University. Likewise, the federal government should take action to revoke Liberty’s tax exempt status if it does not withdraw this edict. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, defense of freedom of expression is critical to the American way of life. It is what separates us from the radical theocratic thinking of our enemies in Al Queda.


  1. I’m a Christian (not an evangelical) and I feel that this is wrong on all levels. These types of actions by so-called Christian organizations are what gives Christianity a poor image (not that it matters to true people of faith).

    Nonetheless, this is another example of the Evangelical Christian ignorance to the commandments of LOVE that Jesus gave.

    Two thumbs down for Liberty University.

    Comment by hollis333 — May 25, 2009 @ 12:22 am

    • Interestingly, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees free speach, also specifically gurarantees the freedom of religion. Do you think that, at some point in the future, Liberty might ban Episcopalians from their campus? They are very open minded about gay issues and choice. Once an institution starts down the slippery slope of denying liberties, incremental steps become easier. We saw this in our country during the McCarthy era

      Comment by bosox4 — May 25, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  2. I just read that Liberty University did NOT ban the Democratic club, that was actually spun in the news. For more information read the Op-Ed posted and also the article on the meeting with the Democratic club on Liberty University website.

    Comment by Kel — May 29, 2009 @ 10:53 am

    • Not sure what op-ed you are referring to.

      When i posted the article, I checked various sources, focusing primarily on conservative news organizations and reading specific comments from the Univeristy. I suspect what they are saying is that they are not going to “ban” the organization, just refuse it recognition as an “official” school club. The impact would be to limit access to school rooms for meetings, funding for activities etc. While it may insulate them from any First Amendment issues regarding limiting free speach, in my book, that is a tawdry response to an uncalled for action which should jeopardize their tax exempt status. More than that, it is just plain dumb. Why pick a fight or make an issue over 4-5 students? Any economic benefit from increased contributions will be more than offset by a loss of tax exempt status. They have better fights to wage over issues which have a more significant moral and religious basis that may be winnable if they do not marginalize themselves with silly fights like this one

      Comment by bosox4 — May 29, 2009 @ 11:24 am

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About author

Mr Thaler is currently the Managing Partner of Lieutenant Island Partners, an organization providing corporate finance advice and general consulting to corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Mr Thaler retired as Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank Securities in early 2008. His background includes experience as an investment banker, senior manager, business builder, college professor, not for profit board chair and trustee. In his thirty plus years as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, he has been involved in numerous significant debt and equity financings, mergers & acquisitions, leverage buyouts, restructurings and cross border transactions. Of particular note, Mr Thaler has been one of the most active participants and strategic advisors to the homebuilding industry. In a period of significant turmoil and losses, he was one of the few active bankers to the industry who did not have either a loss or credit write down. He is currently advising several public builders on strategic matters and is an adjunct professor of finance at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Though he lives in New York, he is a life long Red Sox fan!







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