A Blow to Religious Liberty–and Campus Ministry

The Supreme Court has ruled against a Christian group, demanding that it conform to pro-homosexual policies on a law school campus. They have said that a school’s politically correct policies trump the First Amendment. Another post. They have said that a school can insist that Christian groups allow persons practicing and advocating immorality to be members–or, to put it another way, that Christian groups must deny their own beliefs and practices in order to be recognized by a college.

Campus ministry as we have known it is dead if this ruling stands.

4 thoughts on “A Blow to Religious Liberty–and Campus Ministry

  1. The issue was whether the organization would receive state funding and official recognition. How is either necessary for campus ministry? Indeed, the organization doubled its membership in the year after it was no longer officially recognized, while continuing to hold events on campus. Their liberty was not infringed, unless you define liberty as a right to government money.

    This is not a religious liberty issue but an establishment, separation of church and state one.

    • All student organizations rely on recognition to be able to participate in events such as orientations and make use of those means of communication available to student groups. At some campuses, they get office space. It isn’t state funding that they get–it is student activities funds; these are funds that all students are required to pay, so that student groups can function. These are basic rights to students, who have the right to organize and communicate with their peers and benefit from the funds that they paid. I’m wondering, will the school in question now require Hillel to accept radical Muslim or KKK members? Will they require GLBTQXYZ groups to accept Christians who believe homosexuality a sin?

      Of course it is a religious liberty issue. This is a public forum–a university that itself receives state funding. If a university receives state funding, it must be bound by the laws that govern all–that includes the obligation to uphold the religious liberty of all who attend it.

      This ruling is patently absurd, as ADF notes: “The Hastings policy actually requires CLS to allow atheists to lead its Bible studies and the College Democrats to accept the election of Republican officers in order for the groups to be recognized on campus. We agree with Justice Alito in his dissent that the court should have rejected this as absurd.”

      Also absurd is the insistence by the school that all groups accept all people with all points of view. What is the point of having a group at all if not to separate people based on their interests and viewpoints? One has a Republican group to exclude Democrats, and vice versa. One has a chess club because it draws only those people with an interest in chess. This is the basic nature of groups.

      But as this article shows, the school changed its claims as the case went forward. It initially let groups discriminate on all kinds of bases. It’s lawyers got it to modify its claims and its requirements.

      Alito’s factual comment is critical:

      Only religious groups were required to admit students who did not share their views. An environmentalist group was not required to admit students who rejected global warming. An animal rights group was not obligated to accept students who supported the use of animals to test cosmetics. But CLS was required to admit avowed atheists. This was patent viewpoint discrimination. … It is no wonder that the Court makes no attempt to defend the constitutionality of the Nondiscrimination Policy.

  2. I was dismayed at the ruling, or even when I saw that it was Ginsburg who wrote the opinion. I’m part of a campus fellowship at a law school, and I am friends with the man who argued the case on behalf of CLS-Hastings.

    That said, I agree with “Tompaul” in at least one respect: to say that “Campus ministry is dead” because of this ruling is an exaggeration that underestimates the power of the Gospel (though maybe you were aiming for hyperbole, I don’t know). Ministry to the Roman Empire wasn’t “dead” because of crosses and lions’ dens, and ministry in China isn’t dead because of the People’s Party.

    Let us instead simultaneously act as good citizens and voice our discontent, but also act as good Christians and rejoice in our sufferings, having full confidence and faith in our Savior, His Gospel, and His mighty power.

    • Campus ministry is done on the campus, as a living part of the campus community. This will exile Christianity (and other religious groups) to the fringes. It may still be student ministry, but it won’t be campus ministry.

      There was a good system on campus for student groups–whoever wanted to form one just had to have a certain number of people agree that it was worthwhile, get a faculty member to serve as adviser, and submit a constitution. They could draw from student fees in proportion to their membership. Under this arrangement, student life flourished on campus. There was healthy diversity. There was debate. There was freedom. Then came political correctness, which in the name of combating discrimination, indulged in discrimination. That’s what brought us to this point.

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