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Meditation 1162
Christians forced off Campus. Not!

by: John Tyrrell

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A little over a week ago while travelling, thanks to the free USA Today the hotel provided, I read an op-ed (Christian should lead Christians by Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today, 11 November)  bemoaning the de-recognition  of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship by the California State University System.

Apparently the anti-discrimination rules set for student organizations specified no religious requirements could be imposed on those seeking leadership roles in the organization. The InterVarsity Christians refused to sign on to the new rules, and thus lost official recognition. It seems they had a fear than non-Christians could openly run for club president and other executive positions and take over the organization. By losing official recognition, they could no longer use university facilities for recruiting, meetings, and lost out on their share funding from student fees.

My initial reaction was that this is silly. If religious organizations are going to be allowed on campus, then they probably should have an exemption to allow them to require their executives to be members of the religion. But perhaps the single op-ed I’d read did not give a balanced story.  So I looked into this a little further.

On initial review, I found numerous example of teeth-gnashing on various Christian websites over the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s problems – and of course the issue of persecution of Christians for following their faith. And somehow only the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship seemed to have this problem.

What I did not find was that any other religious organization had lost official recognition over this issue. No Muslim organization; no Baha’i organization; no Buddhist organization; no Jewish organization; no atheists, no agnostics; and most remarkably, not a single other campus Christian club, fellowship, mission, or organization of any kind.  And my quick-and-dirty online sampling of campus religious clubs in the California State University System revealed there are more Christian clubs in total than there are than all the other religion-based (and anti-religion) clubs combined. About 2/3 of religion-related campus clubs are Christian.

All those other religious-oriented organizations managed to buy into the new anti-discrimination rules. Even those which were both ethnically-based and religiously-based (e.g. Korea Campus Crusade for Christ) were willing to accept rules requiring them not to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

What it amounts to is that every other organization decided it could live with the anti-discrimination rules, that it could trust its own membership to elect an executive which bought into the organization’s purpose.

The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship decided it would rather play the martyr card and get its name in the newspaper. But the idea they were somehow persecuted for their faith is invalid. They were treated the same as everyone else.


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