The following comes from a June 12 story on the Christian Post.
College and university policies that stipulate that Christian student groups on campus must follow non-discrimination policies in the selection of the groups’ leaders could squelch student conversation about faith in the future, says a leader from InterVarsity.
Greg Jao, national field director for the Northeast InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, told The Christian Post that college institutions such as California State University (Cal State), the largest university system in the U.S., that are prepared to withdraw recognition from certain evangelical clubs this summer, are an example of a nation at a crossroads.
“There’s just enough of them that it’s not just Vanderbilt, for example, that have taken this to an illogical extreme, it’s an increasing number of schools that actually believe that the best way to avoid discrimination is to prevent religious groups from becoming authentically religious. There is enough of them that it is actually a trend,” Jao explains. “The United States is in the middle of reassessing what it thinks the role of religion should be in our society. Health and Human Service questions, denial of service questions, marriage equality, they are all different questions about religion and its role in society, but they are all being asked right now and the U.S. is coming to a very different answer than it used to come up with.”
InterVarsity and Jao are no strangers to defending Christian clubs on campuses. As The New York Times recently reported, universities have been “emboldened” to regulate religious groups after a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that determined it was constitutional for a public law school in California to deny recognition to a Christian student group that apparently excluded gays.
“You can no longer ignore the fact that multiple universities are doing this and it’s a sustained trend rather than one administrator acting oddly,” Jao told the Christian Post.
He differentiates the seemingly bias college policies about leadership in Christian clubs from other issues in the country centered on religious beliefs that are making current headlines by pointing out that InterVarsity is “not saying we want to impose Christian beliefs or practices. This is an internal organizational matter for religious groups.”
He added, “InterVarsity welcomes all students to our meetings, programs, and events, and we think by and large the non-discrimination policies are actually good things for the universities, just taken to an illogical extreme. I don’t think there is a large conspiracy working against religious groups, but I do think it shows the bankruptcy of the current tolerance conversation.”
“….If Cal State wants to be a diverse, tolerance-inclusive school, which we support, and we think it should be, we hope it will reconsider its role so that it’s actually welcoming and inclusive of religious students as well,” Jao said.
To read the entire Christian Post story, click here.
The following comes from a June 9 story in the New York Times.
The universities have been emboldened to regulate religious groups by a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that found it was constitutional for a public law school in California to deny recognition to a Christian student group that excluded gays….
At Cal State, the nation’s largest university system with nearly 450,000 students on 23 campuses, the chancellor is preparing this summer to withdraw official recognition from evangelical groups that are refusing to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion in the selection of their leaders…. Cal State officials insist that they welcome evangelicals, but want them to agree to the same policies as everyone else. “Lots of evangelical groups are thriving on our campuses,” said Susan Westover, a lawyer for the California State University System. However, she said, there will be no exceptions from the antidiscrimination requirements. “Our mission is education, not exclusivity,” she said.
To read the entire New York Times story, click here.