The Supreme Court is currently presiding over what some Christian groups are calling the biggest freedom of religion case in over 15 years. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the University of California-Hasting’s School of Law filed a lawsuit on October 22, 2004, against school officials who denied recognition to the group because the chapter requires officers and voting members to adhere to the CLS Statement of Faith.
In early September 2004, the CLS chapter had asked school officials to exempt the group and other religious student organizations from the religion and sexual orientation portions of their university’s nondiscrimination policy. This nondiscrimination policy would force clubs to allow persons who hold beliefs and engage in conduct contrary to their statement of faith (which for CLS included a prohibition on extramarital sex) to join as voting members and to run for officer positions.
Contrary to many of the misconceptions floating around about the case, this has nothing to do with same-sex marriage or federal funding. This case is actually about whether a religious group (and maybe even others) may ensure that its members and leaders share its beliefs. In fact, one homosexual group, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, filed a brief in support of CLS against Hastings.
The long-range implications of this ruling could mean that a NAACP chapter would have to allow a racist skinhead to sit on its planning meetings or a Jewish club would have to elect a Nazi into a leadership position. Insanity! The overarching affects of the wording could have huge implications for Christian groups and private organizations that adhere to a code of conduct that might be considered “discriminatory” by state organizations.