College Ministry Regains Recognition After Being ‘Exiled’ for Requiring Leaders to Be Christian

Chi Alpha LogoTURLOCK, Calif. — A Christian campus organization that lost recognition from a California university after being accused of “religious discrimination” for not allowing non-Christians to hold leadership positions has regained its rights to meet on campus.

As previously reported, in September of last year, Chi Alpha’s chapter at California State University-Stanislaus was informed by the university that the group would no longer be recognized as a campus organization. The school accused the organization of religious discrimination and abruptly severed ties with the Christian group.

In a letter mailed in March to Cal State Stanislaus, Chi Alpha’s National Director, E. Scott Martin, explained that the Christian group was effectively “exiled from campus.”

“Within twenty-four hours, university personnel locked Chi Alpha students out of their reserved meeting space and forced them to hold their meetings off campus—in effect our Chi Alpha chapter was exiled from campus,” Martin wrote. “The harm from these incidents is ongoing, as it continues to affect Chi Alpha’s student members to this day.”

Chi Alpha was allegedly kicked off the Cal State Stanislaus campus because, although any student can become a member of the group, its leaders must affirm the organization’s Christian beliefs. University officials claim that this requirement violates the school’s non-discrimination policy.

“No campus shall recognize any fraternity, sorority, living group, honor society, or other student organization that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability,” states the university’s official policy.

While university officials have stood by the policy over the past year, they have now agreed to allow Chi Alpha to once again meet on campus and select leaders that will best fit the organization.

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“Today, we are grateful to announce that Chi Alpha is back on campus at Stanislaus and across the CSU system,” Martin wrote in an update this week on the campus ministry website. “Unfortunately, CSU continues to ban religious leadership requirements and to treat religious student groups with less respect than fraternities and sororities. But because CSU has agreed that Chi Alpha’s students may exercise their own judgment to choose leaders that share their beliefs, we are now able to have access to campus with integrity.”

The group still hopes that changes will be made to the policy, but is thankful for positive development.

“So, although we continue to pray and work towards removing the unfair burdens on Chi Alpha, we rejoice that Chi Alpha can resume sharing the liberating news of Jesus Christ to thousands of students across the CSU system,” Martin said. “We are thankful to CSU chancellor’s office for working with us in this challenging season and we hope for a stronger resolution in the future.”

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  • Cosmic Mastermind

    Chi Alpha sound quite obnoxious to me, they are unrepentant and make no secret of the fact that they have no intention of changing their policy of only allowing Christians into leadership roles. And CSU have basically said to them “okay, you can’t put that in writing, but feel free to continue discriminating against non-Christians”.

    Realistically I doubt any non-Christian would want to join Chi Alpha, let alone take up a leadership position, but that’s not the point; the point is that Chi Alpha are bigots.

    • bowie1

      There would be a conflict of interest if non-Christians would be put in a leadership role since they would be hostile to its principles more than likely.

      • Cady555

        They would only be put in leadership if 51% of the members voted them in. Organizations simply are not allowed to preclude members from running for office.

    • Oboehner

      Perhaps they should also address the discrimination of having only educated people teach the classes there.

  • Guest

    So what has happened is that the group has capitulated to the state requirements, there be no set religious criteria for candidacy for office, but the club members can – as they always could – elect the person they want to the office.

    If they had just done that last year they wouldn’t have lost their status at all.

  • Angel Jabbins

    I just wonder if there would have been the same uproar had this been a Muslim campus organization which did not allow Christians to be in leadership positions. Hmmm?

    • Cady555

      Yes. The same standards apply to all.

      • Angel Jabbins

        So do you know of any Muslim campus groups that DO allow Christians and Jews in leadership positions? I would like to be informed of what groups those are. It would be highly unlikely. But no one would complain about what the Muslim organizations do. We must not offend them. But Christians ….easy targets to yell DISCRIMINATION!!!!! Political correctness should apply to all…but it does not.

        • Guest

          An example from the bylaws of the Muslim Student Organization at California State university:

          Regular voting membership in this Organization shall be open to all currently enrolled & continuing students of California State University, Los Angeles. An Organization or its membership may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, color, disability, national origin, age, or marital status.

          Officers for the MSA shall be elected by a majority vote (50.1%) of the registered voting body of the Organization; a run-off shall be held between the top two contenders for each position not won by a definite majority. The electoral procedure will be patterned around the secret balloting system. The quorum necessary to conduct elections shall be no less than 66.6% of the total registered voting body of the Organization. Only currently enrolled or continuing students of California State University, Los Angeles may be voting members.

          for example.

          It is only the groups calling themselves Christian organizations that have these religious orthodoxy requirements. A case like this from the University of California law school at Hastings went to the US Supreme Court in 2009 and the non-discrimination requirement was found constitutional. All registered student organizations cannot discriminate in membership or have leadership criteria that violate civil rights statutes.

          However, even though anyone can run, that doesn’t mean the organization members will vote for them and that’s the difference and what the group is saying in the ‘the students can pick their leaders’ verbiage. They always have been able to do just that, and if the group had put that in their charter they wouldn’t have been rejected as a registered student organization at all.

          The students will elect who they want as their leaders and its unlikely either group is going to vote for someone who doesn’t share the religion of the group.

        • Cady555

          Muslim groups cannot discriminate on the basis of religion either – when determining who is eligible to RUN for office. I expect that the person who wins, based on a vote, will be the person who best represents the ideals of the organization, and probably will be a muslim.

          The organization simply cannot discriminate when determining who gets to run for office.

  • Cady555

    As always, the local members can vote for who they want in leadership. If someone is seen as unqualified, they won’t win. This is how it should be.

    The rule just means that the local members get to choose. National policies are not used to exclude anyone from running. Excluding people from running for office takes power away from local members.

  • acontraryview

    So, basically, the group agreed to act in accordance with school policy. They cannot have a religious test for either membership or leadership. Quite the win!