ICC Note: Starting this Fall school semester, InterVarsity Fellowship, a large evangelical Christian college campus group, will be officially “derecognized” by the entire California State University system. The “derecognition” came after the group refused to remove several core belief requirements from its list of qualifications for leadership positions, including the requirement that leaders be professing Christians. The move will make access for the group to college students much more difficult and costly, potentially leaving the 450,000 students of the nations largest university system without access to the Fellowship.
9/6/2014 United States (ChristianityToday) – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools. Basically, they will no longer be a recognized campus organization on any of the 23 schools in that system. IVCF has been derecognized because they require their leaders to have Christian beliefs.
It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted. Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.
Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.
Now, it’s not persecution. Christians are not banned. People can share their faith. But, now, what we once called “equal access” has taken another hit—people of faith do not have equal access to the university community, like the environmentalist club, the LGBT organization, or the chess club.
The university system has decided that speech with beliefs that undergird it—and shape how it is organized—has to be derecognized.
I asked Greg Jao, who is National Field Director & Campus Access Coordinator, what this actually meant. He explained,
Loss of recognition means we lose 3 things: free access to rooms (this will cost our chapters $13k-30k/year to reserve room). We also lose access to student activities programs, including the new student fairs where we meet most students. We also lose standing when we engage faculty, students and administrators.
And while they still have freedom to request a meeting spot in some buildings, they no longer have the status when other officially recognized groups request the same spot—even though they are, well, fee-paying students in a facility owned by the people of California.
Jao indicated the work is not done, explaining,
We still intend to minister on campus but loss of recognition is a significant impediment.
The Bigger Issue
The bigger, and ongoing, issue is the continual sanitization of unacceptable religious voices from universities. It’s ironic—those who champion nondiscrimination, in the name of nondiscrimination, are creating rules that push out those who “discriminate” based on biblical belief statements.