Letter: Vanderbilt professor calls for diversity, religious freedom, political involvement

Carol M. Swain

Carol M. Swain

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Knox County and meeting with some of the city’s movers and shakers. I was particularly impressed by the patriotism and faith of the people who attended an event hosted by Rep. John Ragan.

My presence in Rep. John Ragan’s district was to share with the community ideas and themes from my book, “Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise.”

In the course of our discussion, I repeated a message I frequently give audiences. We the people must stand up and take responsibility for the condition of our nation. Under our Constitution, “We the People” elect the leaders who enact policies and programs on our behalf. If we don’t like what we see happening in our nation, it is up to us to take steps to change leaders.

Tennesseans have done an outstanding job of electing godly leaders who fear God more than they fear man. Rep. Ragan won me over with his strong support of the religious freedom bill that was before the state legislature last session. The bill supported by representatives Bill Dunn, Mark Pody, and John Ragan passed by a wide margin in the House.

Carol Swain with John and Liz Ragan

Vanderbilt University Professor Carol M. Swain, center, with Tennessee Rep. John Ragan and his wife Liz Ragan. (Photo by Walter Lounsbery)

Unfortunately, Gov. Haslam vetoed the bill. Christian leaders in the legislature have vowed to introduce new legislation in January that will address the governor’s concerns and seek to restore religious liberty at institutions like Vanderbilt University, where the language of non-discrimination was used to force some Christian organizations off campus.

Some months ago, Vanderbilt University adopted a policy mandating that Christian students can no longer require that their organizations be headed by Christian believers, nor can they ask Christian leaders to lead Bible study or worship or live a Christian lifestyle. After failing to get relief from the board trustees, Christian students appealed to the state legislature.

America is changing and not for the better. Our religious freedoms and way of life are under constant attack. Therefore, it is critical for anyone who cares about liberty and our Judeo-Christian values to get involved with the political process and get behind candidates who “walk the walk.”

As someone who travels in conservative political circles, I cannot help but notice the lack of racial diversity at the events I attend. This must change for the sake of our country. To change America, blacks and Latinos who are concerned about the breakdown in morality, the erosion of the rule of law, and the destruction of families must get involved with others who share their values, even if it means stepping outside our comfort zones. Together, we can change our nation.

Carol M. Swain is a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University who has also been a guest on cable television and radio shows.

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