If you listened to Sen. Ted Cruz — something we don’t recommend — you might think Yale Law School was discriminating against students on the basis of their religion. Cruz wrote in a letter to Dean Heather Gerken that he heard the school was “no longer provid[ing] any stipends or loan repayments for students serving in organizations professing traditional Christian views or adhering to traditional sexual ethics.”
He was specifically referring to students who spent their summers working for conservative Christian groups as part of a public interest fellowship.
Yet in a public response from Gerken, she explained that the policy was meant to protect students from discrimination — in this case, the kind perpetuated by those conservative Christian groups.
Last month, we made an announcement clarifying our longstanding nondiscrimination policy: we would not financially support employment positions unless they were open to all of our students, including members of the LGBT community. Much to our surprise, this prompted Senator Cruz to open an investigation of the policy on the charge that it constitutes religious discrimination. It appears that he understands our protection of LGBT students to be a form of religious discrimination. In fact, the policy explicitly prohibits religious discrimination.
Unlike many schools, Yale pays the salaries of students working for public-interest organizations over the summer and after graduation, and it forgives their loans if their salaries fall below a certain threshold. The policy we announced last month is simple: going forward, we will not fund the work of an employer that refuses to hire students because they are, for instance, Christian, black, a veteran, or gay.
It’s irrelevant, she said, that groups affected by the policy include some conservative Christian legal firms. If they wouldn’t hire a transgender student, Yale plans to treat them the same way as groups that refuse to hire veterans. There are plenty of Christian groups, by the way, that would fall well within the bounds of acceptability here. Just not some of the ones that Cruz likes.
Now compare that with how the conservative outlet LifeSite interpreted the situation:
In the latest reminder that traditional Christian values are increasingly unwelcome in modern academia, Yale Law School has reportedly excluded students who work at organizations that stand by Biblical teachings on homosexuality from several financial support programs.
If being anti-gay is a “traditional Christian value,” then so is being pro-slavery, as both attitudes have historical support from Scripture. How Christians should feel about homosexuality was apparently so important to the early church’s fathers that they mentioned it all of zero times in the Apostles’ Creed.
It’s sad that many Christians would rather be known for what they are against rather than what they are for, but some conservatives insist that Yale’s attempt to reward inclusivity and tolerance — you know, something Jesus would do — is somehow catering to “left-wing demands.”
Yale’s policy is the right one for all students. If they want to work for a group that promotes bigotry, that’s their right. Yale doesn’t need to reward them for it.
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