Choosing Their Flock–Can College religious groups limit their membership?

The Chronicle: 1/28/2005: Choosing Their Flock

This article, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, poses an interesting question–should religious organizations on college campuses be able to restrict their membership to only those who adhere to that faith? I say this is an interesting question, because as a question it is targeted only at religious groups. I would venture to say that only religious groups have people beating down their doors to join, that share in no way a common set of values for that organization. For instance, when was the last time you heard of someone who hated chess seeking to join the chess club? How about a Republican (and for the sake of argument, a compassionate conservative) seeking to join the College Democrats? Generally speaking, those organizations are able to self-select, because only like-minded people join them.

That now sets up the interesting predicament that was faced at “The Ohio State University.” According to the article in the Chronicle (dated 28 January 05) “In the fall of 2003, two law students at Ohio State University’s main campus complained to the administration that the campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society, a student group, was violating the institution’s nondiscrimination rules… Yet the two students said the society would not let them join because one of them was not an evangelical Christian and the other was gay. The group said it would not accept students who did not share its religious views, or those who engaged in “homosexual conduct,” which, it held, is condemned in the Bible.”

Interestingly, these two students never actually say whether they attempted to join the organization, or they simply inquired as to requirements for membership. So, at the face, we have a charge of discrimination but there is no evidence of any actual harm being done.

Now, let’s deal with a few things. First, we have a group that has people trying to join it, that actually do not believe in the organization’s view. They are taking Marx’s statement to the extreme. Remember, Groucho had sad that he wouldn’t want to belong to any organization that would have him as a member. Apparently, these folks prefer to belong to organizations that would NOT want them as a member. That, in and of itself, strikes me as “odd.”

Of course, the purpose to “join” the organization most likely was simply to force their hand–to show that this organization wasn’t playing fair.

I suggest that every Religious organization (Certainly every Christian one) should encourage all to join. But I would also encourage them to continue to hold to, and preach, their ideals. If as a tenet of your faith you believe that sin is to be fled, and that righteousness is to be pursued, then preach that, teach that, and don’t hesitate to call sexual immorality on college campuses, well, WRONG. If that makes the membership uncomfortable, because of their lifestyle, then so be it–they didn’t HAVE to join.

Hopefully it will have the alternate effect of convicting, and converting, and allowing God to work in their lives.

Let em in–it just might change a life!


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