Rules Apply to Everyone but Christians, Part 7: University Clubs Can’t Discriminate

Posted: June 19, 2014 in religion
Tags: , , , , , ,

This is an interesting one, and I had mixed opinions about it at first when I read it on The Friendly Atheist blog (It’s Not Religious Discrimination to Say That College Groups, Even Christian Ones, Must Be Open to All Students”). The corresponding WND article is a three-paragraph snippet that comes from Oroville Mercury-Register: “University: Christian Club ‘Discriminates.'” The sub-title is why: “Evangelical group requires officers to sign statement of faith.”

So, here’s the idea: In the vast liberal conspiracy – of which America’s institutes of higher learning are almost universally a member – we push non-discrimination. As in, I don’t care WTF your personal views are, you can’t discriminate when doing [insert whatever here]. At universities (and most places), that means formal, written non-discrimination policies. HR has done this for years with hiring, firing, promotion, etc. practices, and probably student housing, financial aid, etc.

What has generally been neglected until perhaps the last decade or so is student clubs. Formal clubs – ones that are allowed to post flyers, ones that are recognized by the university, can have space for meetings, and – most importantly – get funds from the university – have to go through a formal recognition process at most universities. And when they form, being part of and sanctioned by the university, they must conform to governing rules.

Apparently, the recent hubbub has been that Chico State University, which is within the California State University system, adopted in 2011 a rule that “no university-recognized organization may discriminate based on, “race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability.”” See “religion” in there? Yeah, so there’s the problem.

The devoutly religious “Intervarsity Christian Fellowship” which, if you couldn’t tell, is fairly religious in nature and is an evangelical Christian group, doesn’t like those rules. They want an exemption from the same rules that govern everyone else.

As I said, at first, I was a bit conflicted about this. And, if it were separate from the University – as in, it were a private group – then obviously they can do whatever they want, as the Supreme Court ruled a decade ago with the Boy Scouts. But this is not a private group, and Chico State University has the discretion to pull its recognition, effectively banning it from meeting on campus and from any campus funds or support.

The problem, I soon realized, is the Slippery Slope that this would set up: What groups get to be exempt? Religious only? But what about the Young Republicans Club or Young Democrats Club (I was very briefly on the mailing list of the latter when I was in college)? Should they get to be exempt from non-discrimination based on, say, citizenship? (For some reason, political affiliation isn’t in Chico State University’s list.) Or what about the FMLA (Feminist Majority Leadership Association, I think) — should they be able to discriminate based on gender?

The problem is that once you create an exemption for one group, you have to start to do it for every group. And then it becomes pointless to even have the non-discrimination policies in the first place (though I would suspect that some of the über-conservatives would appreciate that kind of outcome).

So, is it religious discrimination to say that a religious club can’t discriminate based on religion? Wow … I had trouble writing that sentence, for I think it answers itself. Perhaps instead of “religious discrimination,” I should’ve written, “religious oppression.” There we go — once Christians are oppressed, they can be picked up by FOX “news.”


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