7.20.2010

US Supreme Court Decision

Here is an email we got from our National Executive Director of the Campus Ministry for CCC. In this letter it outlines how the Supreme Court decision will impact Christian organizations on public campuses and also some of the rights protected. Peruse at your own amusement:



Dear Campus Staff,

You may have heard about the recent decision by the Supreme Court in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (Martinez). There have been a number of articles, blog posts and letters written regarding the case. Because of the importance of the decision, I am writing to give you our thinking on the case and its implications for our ministry.

While the decision is important and will have an impact on some of our campus ministries, it is, actually, very narrow in what it pertains to. There are some aspects of the reasoning that are of concern to us, but for the most part, we believe the decision will only have a limited impact on our ministry. Most important, the court affirmed what has clearly been the law, that Christian students have a constitutionally protected right to organize and register clubs on public university campuses and that they are free to express their faith, and to study and worship together through those clubs.

The Martinez case arose at a public law school in California when the school refused to register as a student club a law student chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS). CLS is a professional association for Christian lawyers and law students. Because of its religious mission, the organization has a statement of faith that it asks its members to agree with, and it requires the leaders of its student chapters to agree to live their lives in accord with Biblical teaching. The law school stated that these religious and life style standards for members and leaders violated its requirement that registered clubs be open to all students. CLS brought suit contending that the law school’s policy was a direct violation of the United States Constitution’s First Amendment.

The law school contended in the litigation that its policy simply required every registered club to allow all students access to membership and leadership. Limitations based upon membership in the organization the club represented, or beliefs in its message were prohibited. Thus, the school argued, for example, that a Republican could be elected president of the Democrat club and vice versa. This policy, the school described as an “all comers” policy.

Confronted with this policy, on a 5 to 4 vote, a bare majority of the Supreme Court upheld the right of the school to adopt an “all comers” policy. At the same time, the court was clear that such a policy had to be objectively and consistently applied to every registered student organization. Equally important, schools may not limit or inhibit the message of a club, even if the message is a religious one. In fact, the university is required to ensure that each clubs’ message is maintained and preserved - regardless of how controversial the message is.

So what does this really mean for us? This means that most of us will be able to continue doing what God has called us to do- reaching out to every student and faculty, offering the good news of the gospel, inviting students and faculty to work alongside us to build the Kingdom. But, if you are concerned or unclear about the non-discrimination policies and their enforcement on your campus (or on a campus where you are considering a new launch), or this becomes an issue for you, we have legal counsel available to advise you and we ask you to contact them directly.

We serve a sovereign God, who is able to do infinitely more beyond anything we can imagine. And we know that He is passionately pursuing all to come to know Him. These types of things can never thwart what He desires to do all around the world.

1 comment:

Deborah Lake said...

Please allow me to immediately correct a misunderstanding in this article. I was on the Executive Board of the UC Hastings student council and voted not to give the CLS student money. They WERE of course allowed to form a campus organization and use school facilities and broadcast media to promote their organization