The Perverse Effects of the “All Comers” Requirement

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

The recent decision by the California State University system to enforce its “all comers” policy against religious groups on its 23 campuses is the latest in a disturbing and (at least in some cases) unprincipled effort to rid colleges and universities of conservative religious groups with creedal faith statements.

The Supreme Court bears much of the blame. In its 2010 decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Court unwisely upheld the nondiscrimination policy of the Hastings College of the Law, a public law school in San Francisco. Its “all comers” policy is that student groups must admit as members and even leaders any student who wants to participate. The Republican club must accept Democrats. The pro-choice club must accept pro-lifers. The Jewish club must accept Christians.

Emboldened by the Court’s embrace of the “all comers” logic in Martinez, other campuses have followed suit. Among the most prominent are Vanderbilt, Bowdoin, and now the Cal State system, with some 450,000 students.

Anyone not familiar with the problems associated with “all comers” policies should watch the short video, “Exiled from Vanderbilt,” produced by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The video features strong critiques from Vanderbilt law professor Carol Swain, country music star Larry Gatlin, and author Jonathan Rauch. The trio includes a gay man and an African American woman.

We might ask what exactly is gained by enforcing these policies. One possible rationale is concern for equal citizenship and equal opportunity. But we might wonder whether requiring all comers to be accepted furthers these important goals. We might reasonably ask whether exclusion from student religious groups could lead to political, economic, or social harms akin to those addressed by civil rights legislation. Such harms are certainly possible.

I have argued that anti-discrimination laws might justifiably limit the autonomy of private groups when exclusion from membership meaningfully curtails access to broader social or economic participation. For example, if membership in religious student groups were a prerequisite to the most desirable post-graduation jobs, then “all comers” policies might well be justified. But in making such assessments, universities—and courts—should focus on genuine impediments to power and resources. A better remedy might be encouraging a diversity of groups so that every student can find a community who shares his or her beliefs, rather than forcing existing groups to change.

In fact, it may well be the case that Cal State’s enforcement of the “all comers” policy against religious student groups undercuts some efforts toward equality. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship reports that many of its students affected by the Cal State policy are students of color.  It is not implausible to think that these students find acceptance and solidarity in groups that help them navigate life at college. Those support structures are no small thing on campuses. And now a sizeable number of groups that provided those structures are no longer welcome.

Would college students really have greater equality of opportunity and equality of citizenship if they were able to join and lead groups whose creedal views differ from their own? Would the gains offset the costs to those (including many students of color) who find deep value in those groups? That seems unlikely. But we will never know.

The perverse genius of the “all comers” policy is that it operates much like a classic prior restraint. It requires student groups to pledge allegiance to “all comers” as a condition of entry into the university’s public forum. As a practical matter, most groups will have little problem with such a policy. Most can generally agree to open membership policies because their membership largely self-selects, and nothing in their organizational documents is in tension with “all comers.” But as Tish Harrison Warren explains so well, creedal faith groups are different.  Because these groups will be unwilling to alter their longstanding theological commitments, the policy ensures that their views and beliefs will be excluded from the pluralistic environment of the university.

And, of course, college and university administrators know it. They know full well that local chapters of national organizations like InterVarsity will not be able to sign statements that embrace a liberal orthodoxy of openness at the cost of theological integrity.

Most progressive religious groups will not encounter similar theological hurdles. They will take the “all comers” pledge, and they will remain in the good graces of campus administrators.  Those groups may well be tapped in litigation and policy discussions to show that “all comers” is not a religious liberty issue or a genuine threat to pluralism.

But of course it is. To understand the fundamental logic more clearly, consider the language of two recent federal appellate opinions. In Truth v. Kent (2008), the Ninth Circuit concluded that a high school Bible club violated a school district’s nondiscrimination policies because the club’s requirement that its members “possess a ‘true desire to . . . grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ’ inherently excludes non-Christians.” In Alpha Delta v. Reed (2011), the same court suggested that a public university might deny official recognition to Christian student groups that limit “their members and officers [to those who] profess a specific religious belief, namely, Christianity.” This is where we are headed, and it should be worrisome to people of all faiths and people of no faith.

“All comers,” which purports to be driven by principle, has shown itself to be unprincipled in practice. This is less evident at Hastings College of the Law or Bowdoin College, neither of which have fraternities or sororities. But what do university administrators do in settings where certain groups (and certain alumni bases) are too important to uproot with “all comers”? The answer at Vanderbilt and Cal State, at least, is to grant those groups exemptions. The Cal State policy permits fraternities and sororities to maintain gender limitations in their membership. Vanderbilt’s policy exempts from the logic of “all comers” not only fraternities and sororities, but also singing groups and honor societies. (And let’s be honest: many fraternities and sororities limit their membership for all kinds of reasons beyond gender, including popularity and physical appearance. Most other student groups, like religious student groups, do not make such distinctions.)

As a private university, Vanderbilt is within its rights to trumpet its lack of principle. Cal State, as a governmental actor, is subject to the constraints of the First Amendment. It may be that Cal State’s exemptions will make its policy vulnerable to a free exercise challenge by student religious groups in spite of Martinez and even under the attenuated free exercise framework established by the Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith. (A roadmap for that argument can be found in this 2012 amicus brief from an unrelated case.)

In the context of public colleges and universities like Cal State, one of the fundamental problems with forcing groups to admit all comers is that it infringes on constitutional protections that the private groups of civil society have a right to enjoy. These important protections, rooted in the First Amendment’s right of assembly and the judicially recognized right of association, have shielded diverse groups against majoritarian norms throughout our nation’s history.

The beneficiaries have included gay student groups, which were vital to the early gay rights movement. In a 1974 decision, the First Circuit rightly sided with a gay student group against the University of New Hampshire’s efforts to shut it down. As the organization Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty argued in an amicus brief filed on behalf of the Christian group in Martinez, “In an earlier era, public universities frequently attempted to bar gay rights groups from recognized student organization status on account of their supposed encouragement of what was then illegal behavior. The courts made short shrift of those policies.” Law professor Dale Carpenter has observed that “the rise of gay equality and public visibility coincided—not coincidentally, however—with the rise of vigorous protection for First Amendment freedom, especially the freedom of association.”

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that the “all comers” cases are more about access than they are about money. In this regard, it is useful to highlight with some precision the facts underlying Martinez. Hastings required all student groups to inform third parties that they were not sponsored by the school. When it denied recognition to the Christian Legal Society, Hastings withdrew modest funding ($250 for travel funds). But more significantly, it denied the group the opportunity to send mass emails to the student body; to participate in the annual student organizations fair; and to reserve meeting spaces on campus.These activities do not amount to sponsorship or state support. They are means of participation in the free exchange of ideas.

As the Supreme Court noted in its 1972 decision in Healy v. James:

If an organization is to remain a viable entity in a campus community in which new students enter on a regular basis, it must possess the means of communicating with these students. Moreover, the organization’s ability to participate in the intellectual give and take of campus debate, and to pursue its stated purposes, is limited by the denial of access to the customary media for communicating with the administration, faculty members, and other students.  Such impediments cannot be viewed as insubstantial.

The Court also emphasized that “the college classroom, with its surrounding environs, is peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ ” A generation later, in its 1995 decision in Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, the Court reinforced these same principles:

Student life in its many dimensions includes the necessity of wide-ranging speech and inquiry and that student expression is an integral part of the University’s educational mission.

The “all comers” logic tramples on these principles. It ignores a commonsense recognition that the university ought to be about inquiry, not orthodoxy. That is a loss for the university, and a loss for us all.

John Inazu’s essay is adapted from invited testimony submitted to the United States Commission on Civil Rights on March 18, 2013.

John Inazu

John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion and Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.

About the Author

Recent Popular Posts

Related Posts

Comments

  1. G. Deddo says

    Thank you. Finally some rational thought about a policy that undermines itself, education and the constitutional right to assembly.

  2. nobody.really says

    Eh. This is a recurring discussion over at First Things. I’m not persuaded.

    No one is impeding anyone’s 1st Amendment rights. Schools are merely saying that if you want access to government-provided dollars and perks, you need to refrain from discriminating on the basis of race, creed, etc. Want to continue discriminating? That’s fine – but do it with your own resources.

    And I can’t think of any group that requires government-provided dollars and perks less than InterVarsity. They can’t find a near-by church to meet at? Or a coffee shop? A public library room? Someone’s living room? Anyplace?

    As a practical matter, most groups will have little problem with such a policy. Most can generally agree to open membership policies because their membership largely self-selects, and nothing in their organizational documents is in tension with “all comers.” But as Tish Harrison Warren explains so well, creedal faith groups are different. Because these groups will be unwilling to alter their longstanding theological commitments, the policy ensures that their views and beliefs will be excluded from the pluralistic environment of the university.

    No. The policy merely provides that people will have to pay for promoting their own creeds with their own resources.

    Tish Harrison Warren objects, arguing that “The reason we have doctrinal boundaries in place is that we don’t want — over the course of 10 or 15 years — to slowly lose our theological particularity….” In other words, she demands to use state fund and perks to dictate theological terms not merely to her fellow classmates, but to classmates in the future. As far as I’m concerned, if in the future the members of InterVarsity draw different theological conclusions that Warren does today, that’s TOO DAMN BAD FOR WARREN. The dead hand of alumni exercise their power through giving or withholding donations – but that’s it. They don’t get to dictate theology to current students – even members of InterVarsity.

    Warren raises a second objection: “We asked Vanderbilt’s provost directly what we should do if this were to happen (a Bible study leader decided that the resurrection is a metaphor or that Jesus was just a good, spiritual guide among many)….” Fine question. What does InterVarsity do now? If you establish some creedal requirement, who gets to pass judgment on whether the requirement has been fulfilled? Who plays gatekeeper? Specifically, today, does the California State University-designated adult leader of InterVarsity grant and bestow benefits (leadership positions, etc.) on the basis of religion? And do you see no problem with this? Is it wise to have state schools deputizing people to make religious pronouncements and edicts in the name of the school?

    In contrast, is there anything prohibiting a student organization from implementing an impeachment/recall/vote of no confidence procedure?

    What exactly does InterVarsity fear by letting its members – the students paying the fees that financing student groups – pick their own student members? Why do the InterVarsity administrators not trust their own members to pick appropriate leaders? This is the crux of the problem: This is not a fight between InterVarsity and school administrators. It’s a fight between InterVarsity administrators and InterVarsity members – now and in the future.

    This whole discussion has been whipped up to fan the Christian persecution complex. Oddly, there is no religious requirement to run for president of the US – yet the US has never had a president that did not profess a Christian faith. Why, exactly, InterVarsity administrators feel threatened by the democratic process – as exercised by their own member, mind you — I just don’t understand.

    As the Supreme Court noted in its 1972 decision in Healy v. James: “If an organization is to remain a viable entity in a campus community in which new students enter on a regular basis, it must possess the means of communicating with these students….”

    Gosh, if only someone had invented a new way for students to communicate since 1972. “For you shall know they are Christians by their love – and by the blue mimeograph ink on their fingers….”

    I find many of the arguments presented on behalf of InterVarsity to be compelling – regarding the use of private resources. But not regarding the use of public resources. I think Bowdoin and Vanderbilt have made wise decisions regarding student groups generally, even if they perhaps have made unwise exceptions. (I suspect that breaking down gender segregations in frats/sororities would do wonders for frats – if perhaps not sororities – but that’s a whole ‘nuther topic.) In contrast, I think that the University of California has made a constitutionally necessary decision.

    Moreover, if the State of California objects to race-based Affirmative Action, the claims for religious-based Affirmative Action seem especially tenuous.

    In sum: Buy your own coffee. Set up your own web pages. And then do what you like. Problem solved.

    • gabe says

      Oh, B.S.

      It comes down to this. The “elite” and intellectual staist class has found a convenient means of assuring conformity to the “common wisdom.”
      I would assert that the emphasis is on the word “common” (as in RAHHTER common) than on wisdom.

      Goodness, what a statist!!!! – even if you do have a good sense of humor!!!

      • nobody.really says

        I don’t shy from the label statist (at least, any more than I shy from labels in general), but in this instance I’m the one saying that religion should not expect state subsidies.

        What are you arguing for?

        • gabe says

          Were it only “state subsidies” that were at issue, I could conceivably agree with you. But we both know that it is nothing more than a clever ploy to “de-legitimate” any such group that is counter to the present groupthink.
          Consider, if this were invoked for, say, affirmative action and the net result was that some minority group’s share of the benefit were lower than their % of the population. would it then be “permissible to employ “all-comers?”
          No the real issue here is to further eliminate any intellectual or religious diversity on campus – plain and simple.

          • nobody.really says

            [T]he real issue here is to further eliminate any intellectual or religious diversity on campus – plain and simple.

            Please name one idea or doctrine that cannot be taught under the leadership of a student selected by his peers, but that could be taught under the leadership of a student selected by InterVarsity’s administration.

            I quite agree — and I think there is no dispute — that the central issue here is about people’s efforts to squelch dissenting ideas. But the University of California that is not the party engaging in that practice.

            I decline to join the Christian persecution complex.

    • drycreekboy says

      Some responses to this post:

      “Want to continue discriminating? That’s fine – but do it with your own resources.” What constitutes, in this context, discrimination? Defining the basis on which you will organize your group? So long as anyone doesn’t like that basis is free to create an organization with their own basis, who cares?

      “And I can’t think of any group that requires government-provided dollars and perks less than InterVarsity. They can’t find a near-by church to meet at? Or a coffee shop? A public library room? Someone’s living room? Anyplace?”

      Two points: first, “government-provided” in this instance means all the people of California as organized under the Constitutions of that State, and the United States, and who specifically include — for those InterVarsity members who meet State residency requirements — taxpaying California citizens. How exactly is a creed the basis for excluding that subset of citizens, who contribute to the creation of said “perks?” Second point, InterVarsity in the United States is and always has been a ministry to universities as communities/institutions in and of themselves — that’s explicit to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the organization. It’s not just a cool Christian group for Christians who happen to be college students. Even were we to grant your argument that excluding InterVarsity from State Universities is correct it would mean that InterVarsity would face a dramatic new barrier in being the sort of institution it has always seen itself as being. Social media is great, but it’s no substitute for a dorm room Bible Study in three dimensions. This goes as well for your comment about “blue mimeograph ink.” Of course InterVarsity has new means of communications — so does the Pan-Hellenic Council. The difference is that the Pan-Hellenic Council is still on campus. InterVarsity isn’t.

      “Tish Harrison Warren objects, arguing that ‘The reason we have doctrinal boundaries in place is that we don’t want — over the course of 10 or 15 years — to slowly lose our theological particularity….’ In other words, she demands…What exactly does InterVarsity fear by letting its members – the students paying the fees that financing student groups – pick their own student members?”

      That’s a really tendentious discussion of those issues. InterVarsity chapters affiliate as InterVarsity chapters on the basis of the doctrinal statement among other things. The chapter can disaffiliate any time it wants to so long as it’s not holding out a continuing identity as an InterVarsity chapter — InterVarsity has no exclusive title or power over the term “Christian Fellowship.” More to the point, if some subset of member students doesn’t like the campus InterVarsity doctrinal basis they are free to go off and create their own group with its own basis or lack thereof. It’s not InterVarsity that is limiting how future generations of students can organize themselves: it’s the State of California.

      “If you establish some creedal requirement, who gets to pass judgment on whether the requirement has been fulfilled? Who plays gatekeeper? Specifically, today, does the California State University-designated adult leader of InterVarsity grant and bestow benefits (leadership positions, etc.) on the basis of religion? And do you see no problem with this? Is it wise to have state schools deputizing people to make religious pronouncements and edicts in the name of the school?”

      It’s fascinating you cash it out this way, and that even someone Center-Left (which is how you come across) essentially sees Civil Society as an extension of whatever organ of the State it must needs interact with in order to exercise public access. The default position of the State Actor ought to be allowing the same freedom as exists within private associations — both individual and corporate — to the extent allowed by the particular benefit being provided (public education in this case). As long as the State is similarly “deputizing” the Berkeley Atheist Fellowship, or whoever, to decide that a member who believes Spinoza was an atheist, but the group believes he was a pantheist, cannot be a leader who, again, cares This sort of paternalism is not worthy of an allegedly free society.

      “This whole discussion has been whipped up to fan the Christian persecution complex. Oddly, there is no religious requirement to run for president of the US – yet the US has never had a president that did not profess a Christian faith.”

      University administrations and academic deans are a tad more secular than the run of American society. If you’d talked to the number of graduate students that I have who’ve been told their faith is ridiculous, or been instructed as TA’s to tacitly undermine the faith of undergrads in their charge it might leaven your outlook.

  3. Bryan Williams says

    Maybe the solution is to end college and university approval of student groups, eliminate student group fees and let them be private organizations that can choose to ask their members for dues or just meet and discuss topics germane to their organization. It seems that would eliminate all this nonsense. A college or university could not deny any group of people meeting with each other of their own free will, inviting others to partake and excluding those who don’t fit the ideals of the group. Fundamentally it all comes down to money, it’s about student groups getting their piece of the student fees to fund their groups. Obviously most religious based organizations don’t need money to meet with like minded people.

    • nobody.really says

      That’s one option — but not the only one.

      How should school administrators dole out access to various finite benefits (money, rooms, etc.)? Three options: 1) Some administrator decides. 2) Students collectively decide via some democratic process. 3) Students decide individually – say, via vouchers.

      1) Having the administrators exercising all the discretion creates problems. First, and obviously, the administration becomes the locus of complaint for people who dislike the decisions. But less obviously, the administration becomes the responsible party for anything the groups do, any liability the groups incur, any crimes the groups commit. After all, if the administrators exercise all the discretion in picking the groups and allocating the resources, the leaders look a lot like school employees/contractors. In particular, if the administration picked people who discriminate on the basis of religion, this would pose obvious problems for public schools.

      3) How to get around this? Vouchers! Courts have held that when private citizens use publicly-funded vouchers in a discriminatory manner, that results in permissible private discrimination, not public discrimination.

      However, vouchers pose logistical problems. First, how to allocate rooms via a voucher system? Even if each student were given 15 minutes in which to convene a meeting of any group the student chose, we’d still have
      conflicts over which 15 minutes in which locations on campus.

      And even where money is concerned, vouchers pose problems. We’d have a Collective Action problem: people who actually value X more than Y might nevertheless give their voucher to Y, relying on others to fund X. I might really value student government (the system that runs the voucher system), but I might instead opt to give my voucher to the “Nobody.Really Blogging Society” – which is to say, to myself — relying on the idea that others will opt to fund student government. If many students did likewise, the system would become unsustainable — or, at a minimum, drain the funds available for other student groups.

      2) Thus, I surmise that 2) is the optimal strategy: Let the students – or some representative student government – allocate the resources. Students get to participate in exercising a modicum of power – and the school gets to insulate itself from the results.

  4. nobody.really says

    “Want to continue discriminating? That’s fine – but do it with your own resources.” What constitutes, in this context, discrimination?

    42 U.S.C. §2000a(a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

    So long as anyone doesn’t like that basis is free to create an organization with their own basis, who cares?

    “Separate but equal” is, in theory, a perfectly valid way to implement Equal Protection. It seems to have fallen out of favor with the courts.

  5. nobody.really says

    “And I can’t think of any group that requires government-provided dollars and perks less than InterVarsity. They can’t find a near-by church to meet at? Or a coffee shop? A public library room? Someone’s living room? Anyplace?”

    Two points: first, “government-provided” in this instance means all the people of California as organized under the Constitutions of that State, and the United States, and who specifically include — for those InterVarsity members who meet State residency requirements — taxpaying California citizens. How exactly is a creed the basis for excluding that subset of citizens, who contribute to the creation of said “perks?”

    So the California Legislature could vote to give funds to Rev. Moon for religious purposes provided at least one California taxpayer was a Moonie? This interpretation would seem to read the Establishment Clause out of the 1st Amendment. (Then again, Justice Thomas might well agree, so you’d be in good company. Well, you’d be in company, anyway.)

    Second point, InterVarsity in the United States is and always has been a ministry to universities as communities/institutions in and of themselves — that’s explicit to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the organization. It’s not just a cool Christian group for Christians who happen to be college students.

    Yup. And…?

    Even were we to grant your argument that excluding InterVarsity from State Universities is correct it would mean that InterVarsity would face a dramatic new barrier in being the sort of institution it has always seen itself as being.

    Yup, they’d face the same challenges as every other organization that does not abide by the university’s policies. Yup, this conflicts with InterVarsity’s sense of entitlement to government funds and perks. And…?

    Of course InterVarsity has new means of communications — so does the Pan-Hellenic Council. The difference is that the Pan-Hellenic Council is still on campus. InterVarsity isn’t.

    I have little knowledge of, or defense for, the Pan-Hellenic Council. Given the liabilities involved, I’d expect most universities would want to insulate themselves from these organizations pretty thoroughly – but, as I say, this is really a whole ‘nuther issue.

  6. nobody.really says

    “Tish Harrison Warren objects, arguing that ‘The reason we have doctrinal boundaries in place is that we don’t want — over the course of 10 or 15 years — to slowly lose our theological particularity….’ In other words, she demands…What exactly does InterVarsity fear by letting its members – the students paying the fees that financing student groups – pick their own student members?”

    That’s a really tendentious discussion of those issues. InterVarsity chapters affiliate as InterVarsity chapters on the basis of the doctrinal statement among other things. The chapter can disaffiliate any time it wants to so long as it’s not holding out a continuing identity as an InterVarsity chapter — InterVarsity has no exclusive title or power over the term “Christian Fellowship.” More to the point, if some subset of member students doesn’t like the campus InterVarsity doctrinal basis they are free to go off and create their own group with its own basis or lack thereof.

    Great! So InterVarsity can maintain its current standards – and surrender its public funds and perks. Students will continue to be able to join. Other students may agree to accept all comers, vote for leaders that embrace InterVarsity values, and continue to receive public funds and perks. The only outcome that is precluded is the outcome where InterVarsity administrators dictate the selection of student leaders that control the use of public funds and perks.

    I expect there are Democratic and Republican student groups, too – and while the parties might like to dictate how student resources get used, they don’t get to do that. Of course, the parties can ask and suggest how resources get used, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the student leaders were sympathetic to the parties’ requests. But that’s as far as it goes. If a 1950s member of Student Democrats wanted to impose a doctrinal test forever to ensure that the policy of “segregation now, segregation forever” remained inviolate, I’d want the school to tell him to take a hike. He’s free to give his own funds to people who support his views. And he’s free to try to persuade the current members of Campus Democrats. But that’s as far as it goes.

  7. nobody.really says

    The default position of the State Actor ought to be allowing the same freedom as exists within private associations — both individual and corporate — to the extent allowed by the particular benefit being provided (public education in this case).

    You’d support University of California providing resources for the support of a campus KKK chapter?

    I regard this as a viable perspective – except that I read the Establishment Clause (and the Civil Rights Act) to preclude this option for public schools (barring a voucher-type arrangement discussed elsewhere).

    In contrast, I think private schools such as Bowdoin and Vanderbilt could pursue this option. I can’t say I’m surprised that they don’t. I respect the right of private organizations such as InterVarsity and the KKK to insist on their own beliefs and controlling their own membership – and the respect the right of private organizations such as Bowdoin and Vanderbilt to decline to associate themselves with those organizations.

  8. nobody.really says

    As long as the State is similarly “deputizing” the Berkeley Atheist Fellowship, or whoever, to decide that a member who believes Spinoza was an atheist, but the group believes he was a pantheist, cannot be a leader who, again, cares[?]

    But that’s the point: The state doesn’t deputize anyone to make any such determination. Instead, members of the Berkeley Atheist Fellowship elect their student leaders. The state does not make the grant of money or perks to this leader contingent upon anyone passing any a priori ideological test – even if, in practice, every member of the Berkeley Atheist Fellowship employs an identical ideological test in casting his or her vote.

    This is how we have an unbroken string of Christian US presidents without any threat to the Establishment Clause – and why I really can’t get too excited about the “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!” argument from InterVarsity. (Maybe it would sound more persuasive if they stopped using a British accent….)

  9. nobody.really says

    “This whole discussion has been whipped up to fan the Christian persecution complex. Oddly, there is no religious requirement to run for president of the US – yet the US has never had a president that did not profess a Christian faith.”

    University administrations and academic deans are a tad more secular than the run of American society. If you’d talked to the number of graduate students that I have who’ve been told their faith is ridiculous, or been instructed as TA’s to tacitly undermine the faith of undergrads in their charge it might leaven your outlook.

    So you’re really making an Affirmative Action argument? Members of InterVarsity are an oppressed minority, thus we need to target resources specifically to members of this oppressed minority – and use their membership as the explicit criterion for the disbursal of these benefits?

    I’m receptive to Affirmative Action arguments in general. But if we’re going to reject using Affirmative Action on the basis of race, I have difficulty seeing the justification for using Affirmative Action on the basis of the nation’s dominant religion.

    • drycreekboy says

      You have either or more time or diligence than I do so I’ll make a brief rebuttal to all your points here at the bottom. First, your definition (and the California University system’s) interpretation of discrimination is so broad that freedom of association is limited to the area of one’s immediate person, and not one’s enterprises in small-scale “collective-action” whenever a public entity is construed to be involved. I fail to see, on your construal, how churches couldn’t be denied construction or zoning permits on the basis they are discriminatory. This goes double for your absurd Moony example. If you construe access as something the State farms out to civil society sub-contractors rather than something it is under duty to make maximum allowance for when creating a public space, then sure. But you are assuming, not arguing.

      As for the State not deputizing: that *is* the point, but not in the way you indicate. Going back to your original point on that score about gatekeeping. What you don’t seem to grasp is that there is no gate to keep in the first place. The university system is imagining gates that do not exist. Instead, there is a lake (the university) and boats (student organizations). As long as I in my boat do not prevent you in your boat from staying on the lake, and the administration says all are welcome on the lake — what’s the problem? There isn’t one. The same goes for your ‘plaint against InterVarsity administrators (staff like Tish Harrison, I guess). Students under the old regime can still participate, lobby the leadership to abandon the doctrinal basis and dis-affiliate and/or start their own organization. Who exactly is it, under the new regime, that doesn’t trust students?

      One last thing:

      You take great apparent glee in saying InterVarsity is SOL when it comes to access with your repeated “Yups,” forgetting that your original point was that InterVarsity did not need said access to do what it does. I pointed out that is no way accurate. You respond, in effect, by saying “Hot damn! You’re right!” InterVarsity has been part of the University community in California, for in some cases going on 50 years, and so if it wants to stay part of that community that is hardly a churlish sense of entitlement. I suspect the fact you are aware enough of InterVarsity to make the British accent jibe is signal enough that this exchange is sadly pointless.

      • nobody.really says

        “Our students have enjoyed a segregated education for, in some cases, going on 50 years, so if they want to retain a segregated system, that is hardly a churlish sense of entitlement.”

        It’s an argument, I guess.

        • drycreekboy says

          If this is a contest to see who can repeat their own definition of the terms at bar as if they were indefeasible and above doubt by reasonable people, be my guest. I doubt you are fooling anybody who thinks about it for more than two minutes.

        • gabe says

          Nobody:

          It must be wonderful to be able to enjoy the sound (sight) of one’s own arguments repeated over and over.

          Also, why do you assume that anyone who criticizes this policy is part of the “christian persecution” brigade?

          I simply don’t like seeing true “diversity” quelched by flaming liberals – do you? I don;t think that you do and yet you end up with positions that put you in that camp.

  10. Nancy says

    Gabe, perhaps it is because in regards to The Word of God, no one benefits when you make an accommodation, for when you add an element or subtract an element, or change an element of The Truth of Love, you end up changing, in essence, The Spirit of Love. One cannot change the letter of the Law, without changing the spirit of the Law.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Visiting Faculty Fellow John Inazu discusses in an article released on the Online Library of Law and Liberty the recent legal controversy concerning the 23 Californian college campuses denying recognition to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapters as official university student groups. Inazu is associate professor of law and political science at the Washington University in St. Louis and researches the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion.  His article, “The Perverse Effects of the ‘All Comers’ Requirement,” examines the consequences and rationale of the anti-discrimination policies. Read the full article here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>