Carson-Newman University granted exemption from discrimination laws

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The Federal Government just granted Carson-Newman University a waiver that allows the school to ban gay students, unwed mothers, women who've had an abortion and even students who may be pregnant.

Dr. Randall O'Brien is the president of the private Southern Baptist college in Jefferson County. He says he sent a letter back in May asking to be exempt from Title 9, which says colleges are not allowed to discriminate against students. He said, "This is who we are. These are our religious principles and, in a changing world, we want to reaffirm who we are and intend to be."

Dr. O'Brien told Local 8 News he filed for the waiver after his attorney advised him to do so. Anchor Lauren Davis asked him, "You're the president, you're not going to file anything unless you understand it."

Dr. O'Brien responded, "Yeah. I understood our legal council said it would further make us a Christian school."

When Lauren asked whether the school plans to discriminate against students, Dr. O'Brien said, "I don't know how it would be."

Lauren further asked, "Why file the waiver?"

Dr. O'Brien says, "That's a good question."

He says the waiver won't change the policy already in place, and again shifted the spotlight on the school's attorney saying, "I believe he felt it would strengthen our First Amendment rights. I don't know why something would be necessary, but since he's counsel, I felt we'd follow the template."

Students at Carson-Newman gave their input. Sophomore Lauren Graves said, "I don't think Carson-Newman would outright discriminate, but I can see why. This is a Christian university and we need to protect our Christian values as well."

The lawyer who advised Dr. O'Brien to file for the waiver also filed for nearly a dozen other Christian schools across the country. A total of 30 are now exempt from Title 9.

You can read the letter President O'Brien sent to the United States Department of Education asking for exemption by following the link.

We've also posted the president's complete interview online. Just click on the link.