After an international Christian group for college students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, was “derecognized” by all 23 California State University schools because IVCF wouldn’t stop requiring its leaders to hold Christian beliefs, a writer for Christianity Today wondered what might be coming next.
“It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted,” Ed Stetzer wrote. “Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.”
Stetzer then offered, “Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.”
More from his analysis:
Now, it’s not persecution. Christians are not banned. People can share their faith. But, now, what we once called “equal access” has taken another hit — people of faith do not have equal access to the university community, like the environmentalist club, the LGBT organization, or the chess club.
The university system has decided that speech with beliefs that undergird it — and shape how it is organized — has to be derecognized.
Stetzer asked IVCF’s national field director & campus access coordinator to explain how the IVCF chapters in California state schools are affected. Here’s what Greg Jao told him:
Loss of recognition means we lose 3 things: free access to rooms (this will cost our chapters $13k-30k/year to reserve room). We also lose access to student activities programs, including the new student fairs where we meet most students. We also lose standing when we engage faculty, students and administrators.
Stetzer tore into what he sees as universities’ “continual sanitization of unacceptable religious voices” and then noted a very big irony, writing that “those who champion nondiscrimination, in the name of nondiscrimination, are creating rules that push out those who ‘discriminate’ based on biblical belief statements.”
Jao sees another irony, telling Stetzer that “the university is using a rule intended to protect and to include religious groups to exclude religious groups because they want their leaders to be representatives of that religion. It’s an imposition of a civil religion (democratic process) on a religious leadership selection issue.”
Stetzer concluded by noting it appears this trend will continue.
“But, the question remains, how will Christians react? I hope they won’t call themselves persecuted, since that lessens the persecution in, for example, Iran. However, I also hope they will speak up graciously. And, that even people who are not religious will see the danger of stripping faith from the organized conversation at the university.”