Stanford: Religious bigotry or appropriately protecting gays?

A candidate for a Stanford coaching job was rejected in part because of his religious beliefs.

Isn’t this illegal? Isn’t it at least morally wrong?

The best interpretation is that they discriminated against him based on a pre-judgment that he might discriminate against gays, although he had never done so. The worst is that they just dinged him because of his religion.

I believe the worst, because some of John Ashcroft’s opponents, who were so very tolerant, and such strong believers in Consitutional rights, argued against his appointment, based on his religion. (BTW religious tests for federal positions are un-Constitutional IIRC.)

Actually, an interesting question, which makes me wonder why you posted this in the Pit instead of GD.

I think it really comes down to two questions -

  1. Does Mr. Brown’s views on homosexuality (without regard to how he derived those views) lead to a reasonable apprehension that he would discriminate in hiring, recruiting, playing, etc. gay assistant coaches, players or staff?

That’s really hard to answer. I think it’s a valid issue, and I agree that reasonable people can certainly disagree about it.

  1. If we can determine that such an apprehension is not reasonable, is it appropriate to deny him a job because he holds those views?

Probably not.


Wow, that was a heck of a lot of bias to cram into one short news article. I liked the way it kept talking about Stanford’s position being “anti-Christian,” because, of course, all Christians are homophobes. That, and the way the article very carefully avoiding saying exactly what Brown’s views on homosexuals were, only that those icky liberals at Stanford didn’t like them.
Anyway, call me kooky, but if someone is an outspoken critic of homosexuality, I don’t think he should be placed in a position of responsibility over homosexuals. Stanford’s first concern is for the well-being of their students. If they felt that Brown’s religious views would get into conflict with that concern, then they shouldn’t hire him.

Oh, BTW:

A: What does John Ashcroft have to do with Stanford football?
B: Cite?

If the apprehension is reasonable, it is an utterly valid (indeed perhaps legally compelling) reason to not hire Mr. Brown. Assuming that California or Palo Alto law forbids discrimination on grounds of sexual discrimination, the fact that Mr. Brown’s potentional future discrimination would be based on religious grounds would not protect Stanford from a discrimination lawsuit.

Even if it wouldn’t be illegal, if Stanford’s internal policy is to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, it is right and proper to refuse to hire someone who is reasonably likely to violate that policy.


So, the key is whether “reasonably likely” bigotry against gays can be inferred solely from religious beliefs. Since it’s mentioned in the article, I assume there is no evidence of bigotry against gays in his 20 years or so of past experience. Suppose he says, “I have treated gays fairly and will contiue to do so.” Then, does his religion alone constitute “reasonable likelihood”.

BTW if school policy prohibits religious discrimination, would they be required to reject a gay candidate or an outspoken atheist, because he’s “reasonably likely” to discriminate against Roman Catholics? I hope not.

This way of thinking is a slippery slope. To assume someone will discriminate based on group characteristics, without individual evidence is plain wrong. They can always fire an employee if he does discriminate.

We’re in the Pit :slight_smile: (and I have to leave the office now) Have a nice weekend.

In his own words:

That seems to me that he might have a problem keeping his religious views separate from his job. Kinda like Ashcroft.

Did you read the article?

Now, maybe he could argue that he’s changed since he was a child. But if a potential employer infers that he’s bigoted against gays, based on this show, that’s pretty reasonable.

What if he were an identity Christian, who believed that Jews were demons incarnate? What if the school didn’t hire him because of that religious belief? Would that be a problem?

Or is it only bigotry when it involves a religion you find acceptable?


Yes, we’re in the Pit. Terribly observant of you. That doesn’t give your carte blanche to throw around unsupported allegations. Of course, you’re not allowed to do that in GD, but that doesn’t seem to stop you there, either.

No, it isn’t. From your own cite (which you really ought to read, it’s fascinating stuff)

As a child, sure. A lot of people do stupid, hateful things when they’re young. But I wonder if he’s grown up at all since then?

Crucial point: you posts says he “admitted” to being anti-gay as a child, etc. Was this presented as an admission? As in “I was wrong, now I’m better…?”

One must assume that the question will be asked “Can you conduct yourself in accordance with our non-discriminatory guidelines.” Beyond that, there is no legitimacy to rephrasing the question to specify discrimination based on religious conviction, the legitimate question has been asked and answered.

Now, if there are recent public declarations of intense personal bias, rather than admissions of pervious error…then the disparity between that statement and the promise to abide by guidelines is a worthy subject for investigation.

Otherwise, if qualified, he should be hired. It would not be wrong to express some reservations, as that would be candid and forthright. But it would be wrong not to hire him on that basis alone.

As Miller said … so? Does the need for evidentiary support disappear once you’re in the confines of the pit?

[sub]Answer: no.[/sub]

Regarding (B), google came up with lots of cites. Here’s one

Regarding (A), my point is that today’s campus has preferred groups, who receive the highest level of deference and protection.

Do you remember an old blues song (IIRC Leadbelly sang it) with these lyrics:

If you’re white, you’re right.
If you’re brown, stick around
But, if you’re black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

On campuses today, the lyrics would be:

If you’re black, Native American, female or, gay – OK.
If you’re Asian or Jew – you’ll do.
But, if you’re Christian, Redneck or male,
You fail, you fail, you fail.

The PC word for this revised prejudice heirarchy is “tolerance.” :stuck_out_tongue:

In my opinion, the slighest offence to the preferred groups is the kiss of death. A 45 year old job applicant was black-balled because of something he once said as a child? Great tolerance.:rolleyes:

What bothers me is that there seems to be a bit of a double standard on whether Mr. Brown should be judged on his religious beliefs. As follows:

Well now. If he is supposed to be evaluated only on whether he produces good players and good students, then what are his religious beliefs doing on his resume in the first place? What you’re supposed to put on your resume is the information that you think should be used to evaluate your qualifications for the job. If you think that your religious beliefs are important enough to be included, then you shouldn’t complain if a prospective employer takes them into consideration. And if they openly contradict the employer’s basic principles (as Stanford’s Nondiscriminatory Policy explicitly disallows any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation), then I don’t think you have much of a case that you ought to have been hired in spite of them.

Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem with Stanford’s hiring a devout Christian to be a football coach, even a devout Christian who believes that homosexuality is not, in Mr. Brown’s words, “biblically correct”, as long as he is committed, as Mr. Brown says, to not “disdaining” or “disrespecting” homosexual individuals. But if he feels that it would “water down his faith” or “compromise the truth” to refrain from openly condemning homosexuality while coaching at Stanford, well then, I think Stanford’s probably right in deciding that he doesn’t belong there. That’s not religious discrimination or anti-Christian bigotry: for example, a hypothetical gay coach who resented some homophobic Christian teachings and therefore felt it his duty to openly condemn Christianity wouldn’t belong there either. You can believe whatever you want, but that’s not the same thing as a license to insult people.

I find it interesting that I can find no information anywhere on the web regarding Stanford’s decision except for this one article. And it’s clear that the article draws from an article written by Brown for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes publication. IOW, we are hearing only one side of the story, and one that was directed toward a particular audience.

What is missing here is the content of the interview that took place between Stanford’s athletic director and Ron Brown. We don’t know what he was asked, or how he responded. He may very well have been asked specific questions about the openly gay players on Stanford’s football team, and given unsatisfactory answers. Brown claims that he was told that he was not given a second interview because of his Christian beliefs, but Stanford says that his religion was just one variable that was considered.

Until we know what Brown was asked in his interview, and what he answered, it’s impossible to determine to what extent he was discrimated against because of his religion.

Yes, I find it terribly disturbing that virtually all college football coaches working today are black, Native American, female, gay, Asian, or Jewish, while almost none of them are Christian, redneck, or male. :rolleyes:

You know, there’s a certain horrible fascination in the task of cleaning up december’s lapsus logicae. Here goes…

  • [Miller] “A: What does John Ashcroft have to do with Stanford football?
    B: Cite [for the assertion that Ashcroft’s opponents objected to him on the basis of his religion]?”

Regarding (B), google came up with lots of cites. Here’s one:*

And the “one” that december links to is a transcript of remarks by “one of Ashcroft’s strongest supporters”, Sen. Mike Enzi, when his confirmation was under consideration. Yup folks, according to december, the fact that a conservative Republican pro-Ashcroft politician merely accused Ashcroft opponents of discriminating against his religion counts as a cite supporting that accusation. By that standard of “reasoning”, if I want to support, say, an assertion that Israel has used gratuitous violence against Palestinian civilians, all I have to do is quote Arafat as having said so. There aren’t enough rolleyes in the entire smiley bin to express my reaction to this.

december, when asked for a cite—and I know you’ve heard this before—you are supposed to provide actual factual evidence. Like this:

-If you had found a statement from several Ashcroft opponents saying “yeah, we don’t trust him because he’s a Christian” (and how likely is that? for crepes’ sake, the overwhelming majority of US Senators of both parties are Christian!), then that would be conclusive evidence in favor of your assertion.

-If you had found an analysis by some religious-liberties group, especially a leftist one, saying “yeah, these guys appear to be prejudiced against Ashcroft because he’s a Christian”, that would be strong evidence in favor of your assertion.

  • If what you find is an unsupported accusation to that effect by an Ashcroft booster who has a partisan incentive to discredit the opposition, that is worth absolutely jack shit as evidence in favor of your assertion. Do you think you will ever be able to understand this distinction?

*Regarding (A), my point is that today’s campus has preferred groups, who receive the highest level of deference and protection. *

Cite? Go ahead, show us you can really do it right!

A 45 year old job applicant was black-balled because of something he once said as a child? Great tolerance.

Notice how december implies that Stanford’s decision was in fact made on the basis of “something [Brown] once said as a child”. This is classic decemberism, both in its superficial distortion of the actual statements (Brown did not “once say” something derogatory to homosexuals “as a child”; rather, he recently said on his radio show that he used to “hate and sometimes harass homosexuals” as a child), and in its deeper misrepresentation of the underlying point (what Stanford objected to was the open condemnation of homosexuality that Brown feels called upon as a Christian to maintain now, not merely “something he once said as a child”).

RE: Ashcroft’s nomination fought because of his religion:

The fact that he was a Christian per se wasn’t the issue, as Kimstu points out that most of Congress would qualify under that category. One of the specific issues was that, as Attorney General, Ashcroft has responsability to enforcing federal law. The Justice Department has great latitude about how much of their resources they would expend in various directions. Under the prior administration, the Justice Department enforced laws allowing abortions, and brought cases against those who would attempt to prevent women from entering clinics etc. It’s my understanding that Mr. Ashcrofts’ views on abortion run more to the ‘would rather see them outlawed’ side, so the issue wasn’t his religion, but rather a real question as to his intent to administer the laws of the land as they stood vs. how he wished they would be.

generally speaking, discrimination in the work place is a bad thing [sup]tm[/sup] , when it’s attached to classifications such as age, race, religion, height etc. However,

A. The fact that a candidate for a position is black, male, female, hispanic, whatever by itself is not proof that was the basis of their not getting the job.

B. if one cannot or will not fufill essential job duties, they are not qualified for the job and regardless of any other classification, are justifyably screened out of the position.

So, if I have a postion which requires the person perform abortions, and they refuse to do so, they’re not qualified for the job, even if their refusal is based on religious grounds. It is not then, discrimination based on religion, it’s discrimination based on their inability (or refusal) to perform essential job functions. That’s the basic criteria for hiring anyone.

**I have a number of objections to those points:
[ul][li]This whole issue is a hijack.[/li][li]This is the Pit. I was being generous to provide any sort of cite. (Not really. It was also the chance to zing my adversaries with a killer quote. :))[/li][li]You haven’t taken a position yourself. Do you want to assert that Ashcroft was not attacked because of religious beliefs? I think not, because you know darn well that he was.[/li][li]Contemporaneous records are considered to have substantial value, both in law and for historians. E.g., in legal disputes in my business, self-serving notes taken at the time of a telephone conversation have evidentiary value. It’s incorrect that the Senator’s statement was “worth absolutely jack shit”? [/li][li]It’s ironic that in a post criticizing the nature of a cite, you offered no cites as to the value of a statement. [/li][li]If you really wanted to find out whether Ashcroft was attacked over religion, you could look in google under Ashcroft confirmation religion as I did, and you’d find plenty of cites, as I pointed out.[/ul][/li]

Exactly. Not the condemnation of homosexuals, but the condemnation of homosexuality.

Many posters on this board openly condemn religion, conservative beliefs, liberal beliefs, atheism, goat-felching,…you name it. Are we all unqualified because we might deal with someone whose beliefs or practices we openly condemn? Of course not.

But, when the condemnation hits the practices of a preferred group, then the roof falls in. I may be uncomfortable dealing with someone I know is an anti-Semite, but as long as he behaved appropriately, I couldn’t deprive of a job, and I wouldn’t want to. (E.g., a certain actuary, who is very competent. We maintain reasonably cordial relations.)

But, apparently the gay community at Stanford has the power to keep out any people with whom they might be uncomfortable. Or, it may not even be what the gay community wants. Perhaps the larger Stanford community has chosen to kowtow beyond what the gays want. Either way, they’ve gone so far over that they’ve commited an act of religious discrimination. (Disclaimer – I’m partial to the gay community at Stanford, because of my daughter’s good friend there, who I think the world of.)

The BBQ Pit is the spot to flame against what I see as hypocrisy and bigotry. YMMV

Stanford is in fact a Christian private school. It has a beautiful chapel as the centerpiece of its campus. It is not, however, a fundamentalist Christian school. California law does in fact prohibit the discrimination in hiring and advancement of people based on their religious beliefs, as well as sexual orientation. This would include Stanford if it accepts any State of California money. There may be a similar federal law. We do not know what the man’s qualifications were compared to the other candidate, nor what his responses to private interview questions were. We do know that Stanford chose not to hire Mr. Brown.

I have to say that there are certain board members who love to post threads based on highly biased and incomplete political diatribes of organizations they happen to like, without competing information.

Frankly here, if the choice is to decide whether Stanford or Mr. Brown is bigoted, I’ll go with Mr. Brown. As much as I find Stanford to the the USC of the North, I do know that they aren’t bigots. Go Bruins and Bears!


The guy took too many doughnuts, which is rude no matter what he looks like. Leaving his weight out of it, he’s still rude.

The kid won’t get a job or move out, which is disruptive no matter what he looks like. Leaving his weight out of it, he’s still a disruption.

The guy admitted that he “hated and harassed” homosexuals, which is unacceptable no matter how he worships. Leaving his religion out of it, he’s still unfit to coach.

April 12, 2K2: Synchronicity in the Pit.

Am I the only one who thinks that maybe Brown just shot his mouth off in the initial interview? Maybe said something like “This is great school…Too bad you let all these gays in. God will get you for that” or " I don’t want gays on my football team"??

Or droned on and on and on about how much better schools would be if we really stressed fundamentalist Christian Dogma…