03/05/2013 03:35 pm ET Updated May 05, 2013

At the University of Dayton, Diversity Is a Buzzword

The University of Dayton (UoD), a private Catholic university located in Ohio, is quite proud to tout its respect of minority groups. The school's website is littered with snippets of prose which could lead one to believe that its leadership has a genuine desire to care for all of its students. I found the following bit particularly heartwarming:

"We lead and we serve because we believe that the more people we help to develop compassionate hearts and critical minds, the better our world will be."

If this is the honest position of the university's leadership, why then is it ranked 250th out of 260 schools studied by US News in order of diversity? In a letter sent to Branden King, the leader of the prospective Society of Freethinkers (SOFT), UoD's Executive Director of Student Life, Amy D. Lopez-Mathews, made the university's true stance on diversity quite clear:

"By granting recognition to student organizations, we allow them to use the University of Dayton's name, and we require that their activities be in alignment with the values of the institution. We are a faith-based university with a mission of fostering formation in faith and respecting the dialogue between faith and reason. The University reserves the right not to endorse organizations that are contrary to our Catholic, Marianist principles."

Since the UoD has established by its response to the multiple appeals by Branden King to gain recognition for SOFT that it has no interest in supporting the needs of atheist students, certainly they wouldn't support other groups "that are contrary to [their] Catholic, Marianist principles." Homosexuality, Islam, Judaism and political liberalism each run counter to Catholic principles. So one may have the audacity to think from the evidence at hand, that the leaders of the UoD would not recognize groups which support such things.

Surprisingly, the UoD does, in fact, recognize several groups which support lifestyles and ideologies that are explicitly contrary to Catholic dogma. Their refusal to provide equality to atheists is the singular exception. The hypocritical actions of the UoD are demonstrative of an unsettling trend in this country. A 2012 Gallup study demonstrated that atheists are the least likely of any minority to be elected to the presidency if all other qualifications are equal. A more recent study by the University of Minnesota revealed that 39.6 percent of Americans think atheists do not share their vision of American society and 47.6 percent would object to their child marrying an atheist.

As of now, the UoD has established that SOFT will not be recognized, and has no right to appeal for recognition. This "diverse" and "accepting" university has expressly stated that it will never give the same rights to atheists that it currently gives to its LGBT, Muslim, or Jewish students. The legality of their bigotry is suspect, but the moral failure of it is blatant. Perhaps with enough public inquiry into why it is they deny equality to one minority but not others that are also contrary to Catholicism we might encourage them to reconsider.