John Leo
Is it reasonable for a university to insist that campus Christian groups accept non-Christian or anti-Christian students as group leaders? Ask a hundred ordinary Americans, and you would very likely get 99 or 100 nos. Ask Rutgers University, though, and you'd get an answer that would earn a summa cum laude for political correctness.

In September, Rutgers banned a Christian group from using campus facilities and stripped the group of university funding because it selects leaders on the basis of religious belief. Rutgers is punishing the InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship for violating the university's non-discrimination policy. That policy states that "membership, benefits and the election of officers" cannot be biased on the basis of race, sex, handicap, age, sexual orientation, or political and religious affiliation."

"Political and religious affiliation" is not really the sticking point at Rutgers, though the anti-discrimination language here would require a Democratic club to allow a Republican president, a Jewish group to allow a Holocaust-denying president, and a Muslim group to accept a leader who believes in Christianity, animism or voodoo. The real intention is to break or banish religious groups with biblically based opposition to homosexuality.

Using apparently non-controversial anti-discrimination rules, this tactic pressures a group to deny its own reading of Scripture. Evangelical groups have been the primary target. Two high-profile efforts to coerce campus evangelicals failed two years ago at Tufts and last week at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

A month ago, UNC-Chapel Hill threatened to revoke university recognition of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship unless it modified its charter by Jan. 31 and waived its doctrinal requirements for leadership positions. But the university backed off after evangelicals and the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed suit in the Rutgers case. FIRE sent UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor James Moeser a friendly warning letter on Dec. 27, and three days later Moeser capitulated. He said the university opposes discrimination but wishes "to uphold the principles of freedom of expression," so it is withdrawing the threat against the evangelicals.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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