Amy Hall, of Stand to Reason, reports in her article “Cal State Universities Derecognize InterVarsity Clubs,”
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s requirement that leaders in their campus clubs be Christian has been declared unacceptable discrimination by the Cal State University system. The clubs were told they must cease enforcing their requirement that leaders hold Christian beliefs. InterVarsity declined, and after a one-year exemption period, the 23 university campuses in the Cal State system “derecognized” InterVarsity. This means the clubs no longer have free access to campus meeting rooms, nor can they receive student activity money, participate in student fairs, or use the university name in the name of their clubs.
Reread that first sentence: Intervarsity, a Christian campus ministry, is being derecognized by the Cal State University system because they won’t consider leadership applications from those who are not Christians. This is deemed unacceptable discrimination.
It seems obvious to me that a Christian club choosing Christian leaders is legitimate religious discrimination. It should seem equally obvious that kicking out any Christian group that doesn’t conform to the administration’s ideas of the right kind of theology is illegitimate religious discrimination, and yet there we are.
I suppose it’s possible that this ridiculous situation is merely the result of a bureaucratic inability to make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate discrimination rather than a targeted strategy to remove religious groups from campuses. But if that were the case, wouldn’t they also “derecognize” every fraternity and sorority on campus? After all, those clubs discriminate on the basis of gender, something clearly frowned upon in the university, so if no distinction can be made between legitimate and illegitimate discrimination, that should be it for the Greek system. But surprise, surprise, fraternities and sororities are exempted from this new non-discrimination policy, making this situation look less like a poorly reasoned principled decision and more like an excuse to excise “the wrong kind” of religious groups.
(See the rest of this article at the STR blog here: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2014/09/cal-state-universities-derecognize-intervarsity-clubs.html)
So how does one distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate discrimination? Or is discrimination always wrong?
Merriam-Webster defines discrimination in these ways:
: the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people
: the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not
From the comments of Hall’s article mentioned above, “Tc” makes what I believe is an accurate observation:
Would the same rules apply to other groups?
Would Muslim groups be told that adhering to Islamic beliefs unacceptable?
Would a democrat group be told that it must allow itself to be open to republican leaders?
Would Holocaust deniers be able to appeal not bring selected a leadership position in a Jewish group?
Would feminist groups be required to accept male leadership who may have anti feminist ideas?
Would atheist groups be required to accept Young Earth Creationists as leaders?
Sadly, the answer is likely no.