A letter from InterVarsity President on the trend to derecognize campus Christian groups because they “discriminate”

Alec Hill, President of IVCF, posted this response in a letter to IV Alum.

In June, 2010, the legal framework within which we operate was altered. In a five to four decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that public universities may enforce “all comers” policies that require recognized student groups to be open to student leaders of any persuasion. This means, for example, that sororities can be required to accept male leaders and socialist clubs to accept republicans. While the ruling was adverse, many of us hoped that the narrowness of the facts would limit its damage.

Over the past twenty months, however, 41 colleges and universities have used the Supreme Court’s decision to challenge our chapters’ status. And at this moment, the two hottest spots are Vanderbilt and the University at Buffalo of the State University of New York (SUNY).

The rest of the letter is here.

This circumstance reminds me how wrong headed the intellectual elite can be. I never cease to be amazed by how people in my profession in academia can cater to cultural trends without rigorous analysis. The same is often true, of course, for the church. The two groupings of people that one would expect to have the vigor to oppose fads and dangerous drifts are the academy and the church. A lesson that wafts out of Europe in the first part of the 20th century is that it was the academy and the church that were the first to cave into National Socialism. How could this be? How could this be?

IVCF is just the kind of Christian group a university should want on the campus. They bring to campuses all across America the spiritual world view which should be in dialog with the other options on campus, and they bring just those kinds of students who are ready for the intellectual engagement that enriches the college world. These are not mindless fundamentalists shouting slogans and burning books.  Because their world view is a spiritual world view it, out of its own nature, does present exclusive claims. To demand that those who represent that world view actually believe it is rationally consistent and logically necessary to the organization’s existence. This would make a great debate in the philosophy class I am now teaching. I just might do that in the next couple of weeks. Would be interesting.

I am still trying to get my head around why the Supreme Court will not review the lower court judgment. It now appears the movement to disenfranchise campus religious groups by demanding that to be on campus they must give up claims to exclusivity is picking up steam.

Of course, this does not mean that religious students must register as campus organizations. At least it hasn’t gone this far. But that would deny them the right to reserve rooms, sponsor public meetings, etc.

In many ways I am inclined not to react too quickly. Universities experiment with all kinds of wacky social experimentation. At some point human nature itself by the common grace of God is self-correcting before it tips too far. But at other times God does restrain common grace so that there is for a moment of time a tipping point, if only to scare us by seeing the stuff we are capable of doing to one another.

Consider the ministry of IVCF and pray for God to pave a way for the continuation of its ministry at those particular schools where there seems the most immediate possibility of the loss of recognition. And pray for IVCF students. Many of them will be societal, business, and educational leaders in the not too distant future. They are seeing something now that will stay with them when the time comes for them to themselves set cultural trends.

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