There's a troubling pattern developing on college campuses across America, as universities are increasingly preventing Christian campus groups from requiring that their leaders be practicing believers. If these clubs fail to comply with so-called "non-discrimination policies," they are often de-legitimized and banned from official-recognition.
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, is the latest higher education facility to crack down on student-led religious groups. In a recent move, the school's student government banned the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), an evangelical organization. The decision was made because TCF, which is the campus' chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, requires that those serving in leadership positions must embrace "basic biblical truths of Christianity."
The group's demand that leaders be Bible-believing Christians was found to be in violation of Tuft's non-discrimination policy. Last month, the Judiciary recommended that the belief requirement be moved from the constitution's bylaws to its mission statement; while the bylaws are legally-binding, the mission statement is not. TCF didn't comply and, now, the group is officially unrecognized by the university.
The ban, which was put in place by the Tufts Community Union Judiciary, means that TCF can no longer use the Tufts name for official campus activities. Additionally, its members are forbidden from scheduling events or reserving space through the school's Office for Campus Life. As is generally the case when these bans go into effect, the group will also be unable, as other student groups do, to receive money from the school.
A screen shot from the Tufts Christian Fellowship web site.
While TCF plans to appeal the decision, it could be an uphill battle -- especially considering the similar trend that other schools seem to be following. TCF has 10 days to appeal and must file paper work with the Committee on Student Life (CSL), a panel comprised of students and faculty, The Tufts Daily reports.
In 2000, the group faced a similar situation when a student complained that she was denied a leadership role due to her sexual orientation. After being re-recognized, the organization appealed to the CSL and was re-instated.
Photo Credit: Tufts University
"We’re deciding to appeal this decision because we feel like just the purpose of our organization is to...encourage understanding and celebration of each belief [in the Basis of Faith], and the best way to fulfill that purpose is to have leaders that are centered on and unified by these beliefs," one of the student leaders of the InterVarsity chapter told the Daily. "We feel like we have the right to be selective on the basis of belief for our leaders since we’re a student group that is trying to encourage understanding about a faith-based set of beliefs."
Tufts isn't the only campus community battling over Christian student groups' rights to require faithful leadership. As TheBlaze reported earlier this month, Yale is facing a similar issue after the Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX) fraternity has come under fire for requiring its members to embrace Christianity. And the non-discrimination policy issues at Vanderbilt University have been widely-reported as well.
While non-discrimination policies are well-intentioned, the notion that a Christian group would be forced to allow leaders who don't embrace the faith is relatively silly. Similarly, a gay rights group being forced to allow someone opposed to same-sex marriage to lead would also be problematic.
(H/T: Weekly Standard)