ALLEN WEST| I was just up on ol’ Rocky Top for our homecoming 2015 game and the University of Tennessee Army ROTC alumni reunion. It was a proud moment as my classmate and best friend, COL(Ret) Gary Potts, with whom I served at Ft. Bragg, brought his daughter Lauren to the campus for a tour. The following week Lauren got her acceptance letter to Tennessee. I shared in that proud moment with Gary and Brenda because I’d watched Lauren grow up over the years and they asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her to attend Tennessee and follow the Volunteer tradition. But something is happening that is most disturbing for me, and probably many other Volunteer graduates.

We brought you the story about the Tennessee diversity department and UT Pride Center that wanted to change the use of pronouns like he and she to some craziness, xe and xyr, so as not to offend transgender students. Many of us went off like bottle rockets and the endeavor was scratched.

Now something new has transpired that I thought was just a joke. a university Vice Chancellor (no less) came up with a list of “holiday party” guidelines – guess he has a little too much time on his hands. A special hat tip to my former Congressional colleague and Tennessee alumni, Rep. Jimmy Duncan, for calling out this nuttiness.

Something is very wrong in the Department of Diversity and Inclusion. Then again, maybe one reason why the cost of a college education has exploded is because of departments such as this.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Rickey Hall, issued “best practices for inclusive holiday celebration” such as suggesting holiday parties should have “no emphasis on religion or culture,” and games “with religious or cultural themes” — such as secret Santa and using a dreidel — should be avoided, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture,” one of the 10 recommendations reads. “If you want to exchange gifts, then refer to it in a general way, such as a practical joke gift exchange or secret gift exchange.” Holiday cards sent to campus and community partners should be “a nondenominational card or token of your gratitude.”

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, ignited the controversy last week when he criticized Hall’s list of recommendations as an “extremist” and “ridiculously overboard” example of political correctness run amok.”

Well, at least UT has figured out those guidelines were a pretty stupid idea.

“The author of the University of Tennessee’s holiday party guidelines that sparked a national controversy accusing the school of a “war on Christmas” won’t be writing such suggestions anymore, UT officials said Tuesday.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall “has been counseled,” UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a news release. The website for Hall’s office will now be overseen by Vice Chancellor for Communications Margie Nichols — not by Hall or any of his staff— and the original advisory, posted online, has been taken down.

“As an education institution, it’s our job to listen and learn,” Cheek said. “We are sorry that we did not communicate very well. We’ve learned a lesson from this.”

I’m glad they came to their senses but as for the “ignited controversy” statement – really? This controversy was initiated by the Vice Chancellor Rickey Hall. Why is it that folks are spooked by the use of the word Christmas? It’s a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We exchange gifts as we are blessed by the greatest gift, that of God sending His only begotten Son who would take upon the sins of the world in order that we have the ultimate gift, that of salvation and eternal life for our souls.

What is so very offensive and alarming about that for the liberal progressive secular humanist left that they go apoplectic every Christmas season? Why would Vice Chancellor Hall take it upon himself to develop “holiday party” guidelines and issue them as if sanctioned by the university?

Here’s what really rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps taken in isolation, this can just be excused as the endeavor of a very over zealous college administrator. This fella should have realized that dawg don’t hunt down South in the Bible belt.

We have two basic religious beliefs, SEC football and Jesus Christ. And congratulations to the Tennessee Volunteers for making a New Years Day bowl game, the Outback Bowl in Tampa against Northwestern University.

But that brings me to the point I want to stress. Just yesterday we shared the insidious comments of one Mikey Weinstein regarding the pre-game prayer of Air Force Academy football players (they’re also heading to a college football bowl game as it happens). Weinstein referred to Christian prayer as “putrid” and “disgusting.”

Folks, there’s a greater issue going on in America. Consider again, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch saying that her greatest fear was anti-Muslim speech, and she’d use the full power of the DoJ to prevent it.

So Weinstein can call Christian prayer “putrid,” speaking of Christmas is offensive and we need guidelines for “holiday parties” that eliminate any religious reference. Oh and Christians are now being blamed for providing ISIS propaganda because of open displays of prayer, according to Weinstein. A few months back, we shared a simple justification from a leftist professor who admitted that Christians were easier targets because we weren’t feared. So I get it, Christians can be persecuted for their faith because the liberal progressives know they’re not going to react with violence, like Islamists.

And you can bet Vice Chancellor Rickey Hall is a new hero to the left. He stood up for removing Christianity from the open space. Funny, why don’t Christians at the University of Tennessee just ask for a “safe space” where they can’t be offended? After all, it works for the left.

Ladies and gents, this isn’t conspiracy theory: there is a dedicated assault by secular humanists and progressive socialists against Christians — and the media is complicit. You can immediately castigate a deranged shooter in Colorado Springs as a right-wing Christian extremist. But you cannot castigate Islamic terrorists as terrorists for fear of offending all Muslims. This insanity must end, and soon, because next Easter they’ll be out after chocolate bunny rabbits. And Easter Sunrise services will be deemed as subversive and advocating a sense of supremacy in the false narrative of a risen Lord.

Somebody get the University of Tennessee back focused on graduating the best of the best — and winning a college football national championship. Let’s stop having my alma mater in the news for inane stories such as changing personal pronouns and guidelines for holiday parties. I am a proud Tennessee Volunteer and will always sport my orange for my alma mater true. But c’mon folks, drop the political correctness worship and get back to hard academic rigor.

Go Vols!