UNC Greensboro withholds recognition of a Christian group.
You have to forgive American Christians if they sometimes feel that they live in an alternate universe. Each one of us has read the warning in Isaiah 5:20 where a woe is pronounced upon those that call evil “good” and “good” evil, clearly seeing evidence of that practice throughout the Old Testament. Today, western culture is under assault as biblical virtue is no longer considered worthy to be embraced. In fact, not a few people in positions of authority are working diligently to oppose Christians and their place in this world.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is the latest example of a school that seems to have lost its way. A Christian group that is comprised of UNCG students — Make Up Your Own Mind — has been denied recognition as a religious group and must allow membership to non-Christians if it is to receive university support. Like all recognized clubs on campuses across the United States, the MUYOM group would be eligible to receive funding that is supported by fees that are charged to students each semester. Those fees cover a number of different clubs including those that advance a far-left agenda.
Last week, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of the club with the Alliance Defense Fund providing legal representation. In recent weeks we’ve shared how the ADF has been working with New York City churches as they battle that city’s Board of Education in a bid to continue meeting on school property. That case is ongoing — we’ll have an update in the days ahead.
Offering comment about the UNCG case was ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco who noted, “Saying that a Christian club isn’t religious is flatly absurd especially when the university has granted its belief-based exception to numerous other clubs. The First Amendment forbids the government from determining what is and what is not ‘religious,’ yet the university is doing exactly this by telling a Christian group that it is not religious. The Constitution protects the right of all student groups to employ belief-based criteria in selecting their members and leaders.”
UNCG seems to be ignoring its own nondiscrimination policy that provides an exemption for student groups that choose its members based on a shared set of beliefs. That policy says that recognized groups “…may limit membership and participation in the group to students who, upon individual inquiry, affirm that they support the group’s goals and agree with its beliefs.”
The school says that MUYOM is not affiliated with a church, but that it is affiliated with a local nonprofit group. However, there is no requirement that such groups be church-affiliated to receive university recognition and the school currently recognizes other religious groups that are not tied in with a church.
After the university thwarted the club’s efforts to obtain recognition last year, the club resubmitted its request, pointing out the many statements in its constitution showing that it is a religious group. Despite this, the university failed to act on the new request, resulting in the club filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. A High Point, N.C., attorney Lisa Stewart, is serving as local counsel.
A similar challenge to a Christian group is currently underway in Nashville at Vanderbilt University. That group, the Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, has learned that the university won’t recognize it because it doesn’t allow leaders to hold a biblically untenable position. The fraternity dismissed an openly homosexual member from his leadership position reports the Christian Post, resulting in the university’s action. The fraternity allows only members that stand on the word of God to serve as leaders of the group.
While a legal response is certainly a constitutional right afforded to all Americans, Christians are sometimes left wondering how best to respond. Indeed, in 1 Peter 3:17 we read, ” It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” And in James 1:12 we’re to “count it all joy” when we face trials and temptations. People are not our enemies and finding the proper response requires godly wisdom and the resolve to wait for it.
Pictured: The fountain in front of the cafeteria at UNCG Greensboro. Photo has been released to the public domain.
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