Until the buzzer, religious colleges score with NCAA | Catholic National Register

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In a surprising and exciting turnaround, the NCAA constitution approved by governors on Thursday is very similar to what religious colleges wanted

Here’s some good news, just in time for the holy Christmas feast: At the last moment before approving its revised new constitution, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) board of directors added broad protection for Catholic colleges. and other religious so that they continue to participate. in the college association.

The NCAA constitution has yet to be ratified by members on January 20, but the draft they will be considering is much improved.

As recently as last week, with the desperate hope that the sunlight might help disinfect the ailing NCAA constitutional review process, I made public to the National Catholic Register the concerns raised by faithful Catholics and others. Christian colleges. They fought valiantly to defend themselves against a pre-NCAA constitutional amendment that appeared intended to oust religious colleges with traditional (i.e. truthful and rational) views of sexuality and gender.

By adding deliberately sharp language to its constitution – that colleges must “comply with federal and state laws and local ordinances, including respect for gender equity, diversity and inclusion” – the NCAA seemed to infringe on religious colleges, at least those colleges that have stuck with the Christian tradition and refused to violate the integrity of women’s sports and the sanctity of marriage and sexuality.

This was the result of lobbying by activists, including the anti-Catholic human rights campaign, which sent a letter to NCAA governors last month complaining that the draft constitution did not explicitly embrace ideology. of the kind. Although the HRC has complained about a few state and local laws that bar biological men from competing in women’s sports, the NCAA’s constitution-makers have deftly clung to the much larger push from many states, counties, cities. and even the federal government to force the kind ideology on schools and colleges.

Such efforts, of course, violate the First Amendment free exercise clause if they interfere with the ability of religious colleges to abide by their religious beliefs, and the colleges are likely to prevail in court when they challenge. violations of their religious freedom. Nonetheless, last week’s NCAA draft constitution could have allowed the association to ban the participation of Catholic colleges even as they fight in court to preserve their mission.

“The Catholic attempt to use sport for the integral formation of the human person and to praise and honor the Creator is overthrown by competing ideologies in the common culture, especially gender ideology,” warns the norms of the Cardinal Newman Society for Catholic School Athletics Policies. schools and colleges. “The problem is bigger than just sexual politics; Catholic educators must resist gender theories which seek to annihilate the concept of nature and our understanding of who we are and how we exist in the world.

Newman Guide’s loyal colleges including Benedictine College, Catholic University of America, University of Mary and Walsh University have joined many other religious colleges in urging the NCAA to add another provision to its constitution, guaranteeing their rights to defend their religious missions. The effort was successful, just as the NCAA Governors approved the final constitution.

Wording proposed by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities read: “In accordance with the principles of institutional control, nothing herein should be construed as restricting or limiting private religious institutions to adopt or maintain policies consistent with their legal rights in as private religious institutions. “

No one in the NCAA should have had a problem with that language. But the “awake” agenda prevented its inclusion in the final draft constitution that was presented to NCAA governors last week, before governors apparently decided that losing Catholic colleges as members would be detrimental to the association and manifestly unfair to religious institutions.

In a surprising and exciting turnaround, the constitution approved by the governors on Thursday, December 16 is very similar to what the religious colleges wanted and should be useful in protecting their distinctive missions. It includes the wording: “In accordance with the principle of institutional control, nothing in this Constitution shall be interpreted as restricting or limiting colleges and universities, public or private, to adopt or maintain missions and policies in accordance with their legal rights or obligations as institutions. of higher education.

Deo gratias! We will see if the constitution is approved on January 20. But already the religious colleges have taken an important step forward, and by their testimony they have shown the importance of never giving in to the worst elements of our culture. A faithful Catholic education is worth fighting for, and it is the smaller but more faithful colleges that have helped secure this precious protection.


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