Story from the Ratio Christi blog.
Here’s the story:
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, the Ratio Christi chapter at San Jose State University (SJSU) received a letter from the university stating that the club had been “de-recognized.” In the letter, school officials explained their actions to be in compliance with a new California State University Executive Order regarding how an organization selects its officers.
Ratio Christi, like many other campus Christian organizations, requires that chapter officers adhere to the Christian faith and biblical beliefs. This means that non-Christians, or Christians who do not feel it is necessary to follow New Testament principles as a guide for their daily lives, are not eligible for officer positions in the group. The State of California now deems this as “discriminatory,” and punishable by de-recognition.
“Colleges and universities should be encouraging student leadership, not stifling it,” said Ratio Christi President Rick Schenker. “All college students, including religious students, should have the right to form groups around shared beliefs and choose leaders who reflect those beliefs without being shut down and kicked off campus. Imagine the College Democrats being required to have a Republican student leader, or the local chapter of PETA being required to have a meat-eating leader. The results of the Cal State policy are simply ridiculous.”
Disturbingly, this has already happened to all twenty-three of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s chapters on California campuses in September and at Vanderbilt University in 2012.
In their letter to the SJSU Ratio Christi chapter, school officials explained the consequences of being “de-recognized,” a list that ranged from not being eligible for student funding and financial services to not being allowed to participate in student organization fairs, ceremonies, or training.
This is the Ratio Christi chapter that is run by Jane Pantig, who was mentioned here in a previous blog post.
The troubling thing about these rules is that it is also a violation of fundamental human rights, as this USA Today editorial explains:
In the massive California State University system, as at some other universities, new anti-discrimination rules for student groups mean it can no longer be required that the president of the Christian student fellowship is Christian, or that the head of the Muslim association is Muslim, or that the officers of any group buy into the interests and commitments of that group.
Student clubs that refuse to accept the new rules will find themselves on the sidelineswhen it comes to meeting space, recruitment opportunities and other valuable perks that go with being an officially recognized group.
Such is the fate that has befallen InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national campus ministry that finds itself “derecognized” in the 450,000-student Cal State system for insisting that student leaders of its campus chapters affirm the basic tenets of evangelical belief.
[…]InterVarsity estimates the cost of operations could rise by many thousands of dollars annually on some of the Cal State campuses. This is part of the reason why InterVarsity is continuing to pray and plead for relief from the new policy.
University officials and state lawmakers should reconsider, and not merely for the sake of InterVarsity. In addition to the freedom from discrimination, there are other relevant freedoms to factor: freedom of religion, freedom of association and our freedom to exercise common sense.
Loss of club status typically means 1) having to pay to reserve rooms, which is thousands of dollars per year, 2) losing access to student fairs, which means less recruitment, and 3) no official standing when speaking to faculty, students or administrators of the university.
I guess I would advise Christians who are not involved in politics to get more informed and involved. California is a Democrat-run state from top to bottom. It sounds nice to pious ears to say that we should be focused on the gospel and praise hymns, but if you ignore politics, politics will come after you. And that’s why every Christian should have a broad, comprehensive worldview that takes into account the Bible and integrates it with areas outside the Bible, like economics. The alternative is to feel pious and yet vote for a political party that makes the practice of Christianity illegal, and believe me, I know many people who call themselves Christians who do exactly that. And they are proud of it. I once had a hygienist working on my teeth who claimed to be a Christian and yet she was constantly bashing Republicans. She had the discipline to learn how to clean my teeth, but not to develop a comprehensive Christian worldview.
The good news I have about this story is that these de-recognition attacks can be defeated, if you get a lawyer from a good organization like the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Look at this story from September 2014:
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a Christian fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), was stripped of its recognition after UNC administrator Jonathan Curtis declared that the fraternity was required to add an unconstitutional “nondiscrimination” clause to its student group constitution. AIO objected to the “nondiscrimination” clause because it would have forbidden the group from considering religion when determining “membership and participation” in the group. FIRE wrote to the university on AIO’s behalf outlining the group’s rights to freedom of association and religious liberty but the university was unmoved. FIRE teamed up with the Alliance Defense Fund and filed suit, and eventually AIO was granted the right not to enact the nondiscrimination clause.
But again, we have to have Christians getting serious about getting married and raising children who will go on to get the law degrees we need to fight these battles. I think a lot of Christians think that marriage is more like ziplining, surfing or skydiving than work, though. They want it to be free and easy and emotion-driven. But there’s a cost to this approach. We don’t have the influence in society to defend ourselves when the secular leftists come after us. We are paying them to do this to us, through taxes.