Thursday, July 1, 2010

Supreme Court: Student groups must admit those who disagree

San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law must now force student groups to permit membership to students who disagree with the group’s philosophy and direction.

The Supreme Court made this decision in a 5-4 ruling (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez). It will no doubt set precedent for similar incidents around the country.

This policy means that religious student groups could quite possibly have to admit people of different faiths or even atheists, Republicans would have to allow Democrats, African American groups may have to admit white supremacists, pro-lifers would have to admit pro-choicers, and etc. Imagine a Jewish group being forced to admit neo-Nazis.

The case involved the Christian Legal Society’s on-campus student group. But, according to a report at The Underground Online Magazine, the Supreme Court did not address whether the school was particularly targeting the Christian Legal Society—which would ironically be an act of discrimination in itself.

The ruling states that public universities may supersede a religious student group’s freedom to choose its own leadership.

It’s a ridiculous ruling that shows political correctness running amuck. Our lawmakers and judges are so dense and out of touch that they can’t see this: The only reason people who disagree with a group’s philosophy would want to join that group is to change that philosophy. The person joining really has no interest in that group except to influence from the inside, change or negate the group’s agenda and make the group lose effectiveness in their community.

Case in point: A Christian ministry to the homeless in Tampa Bay, Florida admitted a lady of a different faith on to their Board of Directors. They were forced to do so when she threatened a discrimination suit against them. In the end, they hoped, if she wanted to be on the board, she would help the organization, as she knew from the start it was a Christian group that shared the gospel with those it helped.

This well-known ministry had been feeding, sheltering and clothing homeless people and those with drug addictions for over 50 years. They had a city-wide banquet every year where people they’d helped gave testimony that finding the Lord had changed their lives for the better, and thanked the ministry before an audience of various faiths.

But within a year of her membership on the board, this lady exerted various types of pressure within and outside the ministry, and influenced votes in the direction that they should no longer share the Gospel of Christ with the people they helped.

When the ministry announced it could no longer call itself a Christian ministry, and could no longer tell the people of the love of Jesus, they lost at least half their private funding, and the lady did nothing to call the people of her own faith into action. Instead, she shortly resigned her position. The organization became financially strapped and lost half their effectiveness in the community. 

It took about three years for people to rally back around and help the organization financially, but they still can't share news of the Bible.


Anonymous July 6, 2010 at 2:18 AM  

First off, I am a Christian. Second, this ruling is right on. I thought admitting people don't agree creates a dialogue. Isn't that what we want? By no stretch of the imagination is admitting only people that agree into a group a Constitutionally protected right.

I know this is hard for you to appreciate Sheryl, but CLS's fears are imaginary - a white supremacist joining the Black Student Group? This is going to happen? Any group under the policy could still expel members that disrupted the group - or they would likely be expelled. Meanwhile, the damage of excluding gays and non-Christians is real. The groups are excluded and marginalized. If state funding is given to groups that marginalize people, then the state supports that discrimination, and people recognize that and think its OK. There is a trickle down effect much like what happened with increased racism and more polarized segregated school systems after Plessy v. Ferguson (see Brown v. Board of Education). See that is OK to marginalize certain groups, people start gay bashing, like the guys that killed Matthew Shepherd. People think its alright because, well even religious groups marginalize these groups, so it must be alright to continue this treatment.

CLS should be accepting anyone that wants to join the group with open arms - as Jesus would have done. He would preach to anyone that would join him and listen - saint or sinner. The point is CLS had a blatant policy of discriminating against students, creating derision and dissension among the students. Hastings funded student groups to create a stronger community and learn leadership skills, NOT to help student groups push their agenda. Please search your soul and try to understand what's really going on here. PEACE.

Sheryl Young July 6, 2010 at 7:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sheryl, author of post July 6, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

Dear Anonymous - in case you return here -
I could have chosen to delete your comment, but want you to see that I believe in freedom of speech. I am a Christian, also, and I believe you have misinterpreted my column.

I would encourage you to read the entire story about what happened at Hastings College with the Christian group here:

The Wall Street Journal also reported this story as an erosion of freedom of religious expression, here:

Yes, Jesus went out to sinners to show them love, but he also went to preach the
Word and bring them to faith in God. He spoke convicting things about sin and did not tell people they could continue doing everything they were doing. He was crucified because people didn't like what he was saying. I don't normally "spout Bible verses" to defend my writing, but since you say you are a Christian, you may remember His words: I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). People didn't like that, and still don't.

Yes, we are supposed to love all people - but doens't the Bible also tell us to come out and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:16-17)?

Other campus groups also want people who are interested in the same thing they are -- but only this Christian group was targeted for exclusivity.

The only reason some people want to join a social group whose philosophy they disagree with is to cause dissension and problems within that group. Doesn't the Bible tell us to be on the alert for those who would devour us? (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Now, I feel when it comes to a non-Christian looking for employment, who really needs a job, Christian business owners shouldn't fear hiring them, because it is our chance to bring them to Christ by being kind and showing love. It's a different situation.

Bringing gay bashing into this conversation was irrelevant. If you are a true Christian, then you know in your heart that true Christians (including myself) don't believe in or approve of gay bashing, hating gays or hurting gays. You don't know me, or how I have tried to extend love to gay people I know.

Besides, here are some facts in the Matthew Shepard story:

In 2004, ABC News' 20/20 Elizabeth Vargas did an interview with Shepard's killers. There was no evidence whatsoever that these boys were true Christians who had accepted Christ in their hearts or regularly went to church or read their Bible. The killers told her their sole intent was to get money for drugs. One of them had a serious methamphetimine problem. His only thought was needing a fix.

Maybe their parents went to church (which I don't know), but even that wouldn't prove these killers were "Christians."

I give you ABC as a source because it is not a religious organization, so you can't accuse me of giving you a bias source.

You can still see the ABC story here:

ABC sticks by their facts. However, the only other news outlets that have repeated their facts are indeed religious organizations. Why? Because the rest of "mainstream media" won't dare touch it -- it's easier to blame Christianity for the indeed brutal, horrible death of Shepard.

In the safety of your anonymity, you've accused me of things without knowing me, and you ask me to search my heart. I ask you to read the stories about what happened at Hastings at the links provided, and the whole Matthew Shepard story at the ABC link provided, for a true understanding of both situations.

Bryan Nettz July 17, 2010 at 5:34 PM  


You wrote, "It’s a ridiculous ruling that shows political correctness running amok," I see it a bit differently. "Running amok" would infer that some person(S) or institution has enforced a rule a bit to enthusiastically, but with honest intentions. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that radical groups have a well organized plan, backed up by activist judges, to cripple any and all influence Christianity has in our schools. Let's not forget, in the court case being discussed, the students who infiltrated the Christian group received help from people in national anti-Christian organizations.

I just wanted to clarify that this wasn't a case of over zealous administrators just trying to do the "right thing," it was an organized plan to break the back of Christian ministries.

Thanks Sheryl, keep up the great writing.

Sheryl, author of post July 18, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

You are right, Brian. I did try to make something on that order clear when I wrote this in the 6th paragraph: That the only reason people who disagree with a group would want to join that group is to change it. That person has no interest in the group except to influence it from the inside, negate the group’s agenda and make the group lose effectiveness in the community.

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