It’s tough to be a Christian group on college campuses these days. I mean, everyone expects you to play by the rules, even though we all know Christians deserve special rights that allow them to discriminate against LGBT students and their allies.
We saw this at Bowdoin College in Maine last year, when leaders of the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship were about to lose their designation as an official campus group (with all the privileges that come with it) because they really really really wanted to make sure nobody who supported LGBT-rights had the opportunity to become a leader of their group. School administrators, on the other hand, refused to allow official campus groups to discriminate for any reason.
Yesterday, the Kansas Senate passed a bill (SB 175) that would force public universities to allow religious groups to discriminate in their leadership. So if the Fred Phelps Fan Club says God told them LGBT students aren’t worthy of holding office, fine. If a Southern Baptist club believes women are subservient to men and can’t run for any leadership positions, that’s okay. If your religion makes you racist, there’s nothing the school can do about a faith-based club promoting that view.
The bill will head to the Kansas House next.
Eunice Roh, the ACLU’s advocacy and policy counsel, said in an interview this week that the question is not whether students should be allowed to form religious associations with exclusive membership rules.
“Student groups on campus can compose and select their membership however they choose, but it is our position that public taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund student groups that discriminate,” Roh said.
Just to remind you what this whole controversy is about:
Under most universities’ rules, groups like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have to open up membership to students who are LGBT, as well as their straight allies. Why would anyone who supports LGBT rights want to join a group that so steadfastly fights against them? Who knows. How many students per campus believe in, say, marriage equality and that acting on one’s homosexuality is some sort of sin? It can’t be many. And it doesn’t matter anyway because InterVarsity (and other similar Christian groups) have said they have no problem opening up membership to that (small) group of people.
The problem exists because some Christians are worried that those people are going to run for leadership positions and get elected.
Not only is the likelihood of that happening slim to none, it assumes that there are LGBT allies who would want to run an organization that holds such disgusting views.
Trust me: Gay-friendly students are in no rush to join — much less take over — Campus Crusade for Christ groups.
This Kansas bill will probably become law, giving Christians even more special treatment. (I say Christians because I have yet to hear of any other faith-based group fighting so hard for the right to discriminate.)
Remember: No one’s telling these Christians they can’t be bigots. The counter-argument is that if they want their campus to recognize them as official campus groups (and give them free meeting space, access to grant money, the ability to set up tables at activity fairs, etc,), they should have to play by the same rules as everyone else on campus. And that means no school-sanctioned discrimination.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Matt for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)