Cal State de-recognizes Christian group for wanting Christian leaders
California State University is no longer recognizing the Cal State Stanislaus chapter of Chi Alpha, a Christian student group, because the religious group required its leaders be Christian.
The system decided this requirement violated a Cal State University system-wide executive order.
"What they cannot be is faith-based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader."
“What they cannot be is faith-based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader,” Cal State Stanislaus Associate Vice President Tim Lynch explained to CBS Sacramento. “Every club is allowed to establish its own standards for how leaders are selected—as long as it’s non discriminatory.”
Lynch did, however, acknowledge that fraternities and sororities are given a “gender exemption” to the policy.
The Cal State system generated controversy in 2014 when it derecognized the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group for similar leadership requirements.
In a letter to Suzanne Espinoza, Cal State’s vice president for enrollment and student affairs, the group argued that the discriminatory policy “[b]urdens Chi Alpha’s sincere religious exercise,[i]mproperly interferes with the internal affairs of a religious organization, and [v]iolates the law, including the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the California Constitution.”
The letter also urged the university to reinstate its recognition of Chi Alpha.
In a separate press release, Bianca Travis, president of the Chi Alpha Stanislaus chapter, questioned how the Christian group was supposed to function without Christian leaders.
“How can someone lead us if they don’t share our mission?” she asked.
The student group has secured the legal services of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the same law firm that successfully argued Hobby Lobby’s case against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate before the Supreme Court.
According to a press release from the Becket Fund, “[t]he membership of Chi Alpha’s Stanislaus chapter is open to any student, however it asks that its leaders, who lead worship services and Bible Studies, affirm the group’s Christian beliefs.”
“The price of admission to a state school shouldn’t include denying your faith,” Becket Fund lawyer Adele Keim explained in an interview with Campus Reform.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @peterjhasson
Full disclosure: Peter Hasson's father, Kevin Hasson, founded the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.