On June 28, the Supreme Court handed down a deeply-disturbing decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that sets back religious freedom in this country. This case was nothing more than the Court expressing outright hostility to a group because of its orthodox Christian beliefs.
Christian Legal Society (CLS) is an association of Christian lawyers and law students. In 2004 it was denied recognition as a student group at Hastings College of the Law (part of the University of California), making CLS the only group ever denied recognition by the school.
It was denied recognition because of Hastings’ nondiscrimination policy. That policy forbids discrimination on the basis of a number of factors such as race and gender, and includes sexual orientation.
CLS policy requires all its voting members to sign its statement of faith, covering core areas of orthodox Christian belief such as accepting the divine nature of Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the Word of God. Based on biblical teachings on sexuality, CLS also believes that sexual conduct is reserved for marital relationships, with marriage being the union of one man and one woman.
CLS believes that sex outside of marriage is sinful, and persistent, ongoing, unapologetic extramarital sex makes someone ineligible to be a voting member or a leader in CLS. Although CLS welcomes all people to attend its Bible studies and hear its messages, those living in such a way—including sexually-active gays—are ineligible to lead those Bible studies or have voting power to set policy or elect CLS officers.
For that reason, Hastings informed CLS that they could not be a student organization, with access to all the resources and forums that student organizations receive. Hastings has over 60 active organizations, and CLS is the only one to ever be denied recognition. Eventually, CLS sued.
This case made it to the Supreme Court, where in a shocking decision the Court held 5-4 that there’s nothing wrong with Hastings’ decision.
Part of the outrage in this decision is that it was based on a lie. Despite this policy clearly being a policy that targets organizations with a biblical view of sexuality, the school’s dean said during a deposition that its policy was an “accept-all-comers” policy, that every group at the school is required to accept every student who wants to join.