There is no doubt that the relationship between secular and religious institutions has become increasingly tenuous of late. How tenuous? Perhaps this Fox News article examining the recent conflict between the Christian Legal Society and Vanderbilt University will help shed some light.

To say that Vanderbilt’s interpretation of “non-discriminatory” makes a mockery of religion (or, really, any group that holds convictions of any sort) seems obvious. Indeed, it is obvious – obvious and fundamental to any person functioning within the framework of traditional Western values. But that’s precisely the point – Vanderbilt (and a great many other institutions) are not functioning within that framework, and this new standard abolishes the basis to declare any person ineligible for anything.

Though Vanderbilt is a private university and this is not technically a church/state issue, this episode nonetheless represents a larger trend in the dialogue between religious and secular institutions. Increasingly, the “separation of church and state” is invoked as a separation between the religious and the secular at large; yet that separation seems to be a one-way street, allowing secular institutions unchecked authority to limit the reach and power of religion, with no counter-balance to limit the reach of secular authority. What is to be done? That remains unclear…