Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Supreme Court, Campus Ministry and Discrimination (Part 2)

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could have far reaching ramifications for campus-based Christian ministries throughout the country. The high court found in favor of the Hastings College of Law, which had been sued by the Christian Legal Society, and upheld the legality of its requirement that school approved organizations could not discriminate against acceptance of members when it came to matters of religious belief and sexual practice.

I've already written on this matter here, so if you have not already read that post, please take a moment to do so before returning here. From my perspective, what is at issue here is whether religious groups have the freedom to select leadership among those that hold the beliefs of the organization and still remain eligible to receive the same privileges as other recognized student organizations.

Although the court's ruling only applies to Hastings College and its narrowly defined rules for student organizations, the court's decision could open the door for other institutions of higher learning to adopt similar policies. While recognizing the apparent slant against groups of a religious nature, Alec Hill, the president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, offers a hopeful and biblical perspective in an article on Christianity
"The church has always had a touch-and-go relationship with civic authorities. Paul's experiences in court were clearly mixed. James and Peter did not fare well with judges either (not to mention Joseph and Daniel). During the first three centuries of the church's existence—as the new faith grew rapidly—public opposition was strong.

As the people of God, we believe in a sovereign God. His purposes will be accomplished whatever obstacles present themselves. While Scripture encourages us to pray for our governing officials, we are reminded that this world is not our home. Christ, not Caesar, is our Lord, our hope, and our salvation.

If—in the worst case scenario—several Christian chapters were to be de-recognized as a result of this ruling, God's mission on campus would continue. If access to newly arriving freshman were lost, if campus communication channels were closed or if access to university facilities were denied, the gospel would continue to be presented through small groups, Bible studies and off-campus large groups. Though limiting campus access would no doubt make ministry more difficult, God's purposes will not be thwarted."
To read the rest of Alec Hill's thoughts on this case, please click here.

I hope to write further updates on this case as further developments take place.

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