Liberty University, which had apparently been moving into a more progressive world than it had occupied in the past with a first-rank law school, an aviation school, a building engineering curriculum, has taken a strong step back into a past many of us would like to forget.
The college has revoked recognition its students' Democratic club because, it says, the party opposes the school's conservative principals. See the story here in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
I have been working with some smart, professional people (and some impressive students) at Liberty for several years and my overall impression has changed dramatically. Liberty has impressed me in many of the same ways it impressed Kevin Roose in his recent book The Unlikely Disciple. Its image overall has moderated, as well, and this decision can do absolutely nothing but harden its perception to people of genuine conservative, moderate or liberal beliefs.
"Conservative principles" must include freedom of speech and expression, freedom from political pressure, freedom to gather in groups of like-minded people and freedom to vote as you see fit. The Constitution says nothing about abortion and sexual preference, but it directly addresses each of the aforementioned freedoms and they are as sacred as anything Liberty officials believe.
There are plenty of examples of conservative Democrats (our two Senators would be a good start) and "liberal" Republicans (George Bush was the biggest-spender in U.S. presidential history). Few, however, meet all the purity litmus tests of the fringes of their parties and that's where Liberty is establishing firm footing with this unwise--foolish, even--decision. A university is telling students they have no right to their own thoughts, their own beliefs, their own actions. They must be controlled by central thought command.
There are some good people at Liberty who will have a difficult time explaining this hard line opposing a basic freedom. This is disappointing to me personally because I like a lot of people at Liberty.