Relaymedia

Christian Student Group Sue for Right to Choose Membership

( [email protected] ) Oct 25, 2004 04:47 PM EDT

A Christian student groups is filing a federal civil rights suit against University of California Hastings College of the Law for requiring them to admit homosexuals and non-Christians as members and officers in order to receive school recognition.

Alliance Defense Fund and Christian Legal Society, which are representing Hastings Christian Fellowship, said the group should be able to decide its own membership. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

“UC Hastings has apparently decided to withdraw itself from the ‘marketplace of ideas,’” said ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “What’s next? Will they require a vegetarian club to admit meat-eaters or a Democratic Party student group to admit Republicans?”

The Christian group told the university that it allows anyone to participate in their club meetings but have set guidelines for the membership and leadership positions in the club.

“Permitting people to join HCF who disagree with the group’s beliefs and goals would contradict and undermine their purpose,” Bull said. “The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that student organizations have the right to determine their own membership.”

By not agreeing to the school’s non-discrimination policy, the group will be denied school privileges given only to clubs that have official school recognition. The group will miss out on activity funding, advertising in school publications or on campus bulletin boards, use of campus facilities, and access to all services offered by the Office of Student Services, reported ADF.

Greg Baylor, director of CLS’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, who is also representing a CLS chapter at Pennsylvania State University in a similar suit, said, “Requiring HCF to agree to the policy to obtain benefits holds them hostage by using their own beliefs against them.”

“The policy is unconstitutional and discriminates against those who hold sincere religious beliefs,” he said.

The case is Christian Legal Society Chapter of University of California, Hastings College of the Law v. Mary Kay Kane, et al.

Correction: The original article read: Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Christian Legal Society and UC Hastings Christian Fellowship, said the groups should not be able to decide its own membership.

The article now reads: Alliance Defense Fund and Christian Legal Society, which are representing Hastings Christian Fellowship, said the group should be able to decide its own membership.