University Christian Group Denied Rights

Weekly summary of world news

Norm Olson June 30, 2010




The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday 5–4 to safeguard the right of a Christian student group to freely associate on a university campus with fellow believers who subscribe to their religious beliefs about sexual conduct outside of marriage, such as homosexuality, according to The Rutherford Institute and other news organizations that exist for the purpose of defending Christian liberties. The Court declared that the University of California Hastings Law School’s “non-discrimination policy” was a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral regulation that did not constitutionally infringe upon the rights of the school’s chapter of the Christian Legal Society. But Justice Samuel Alito, in a dissenting opinion, warned that “the Court arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups—groups to which, as Hastings candidly puts it, these institutions ‘do not wish to . . . lend their name[s].’ ” The Rutherford Institute had filed an amicus brief with the Court in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, citing the concern that “with this sort of compelled choice and censorship, and interference with the governance of a religious organization, all groups and members of the academic community are at risk and their rights, chilled and diminished.” John W. Whitehead, president of Rutherford, commented, “The Supreme Court has now enshrined political correctness as a central tenet in American society and in American university life. This decision is yet another broad-sided attack on the First Amendment, especially religious freedom. It will force well-meaning groups to abandon the tenets of their faith in order to be granted the same privileges and freedoms afforded to other campus groups and organizations. If not, they will face discrimination.” As for the Christian Legal Society’s reaction to the Court’s decision, Kim Colby, CLS senior counsel, said, “All college students, including religious students, should have the right to form groups around shared beliefs without being banished from campus. Today’s ruling, however, will have limited impact. We are not aware of any other public university that has the exact same policy as Hastings.” Senior Legal Counsel Gregory S. Baylor of the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the student chapter of CLS at Hastings, remarked, “The conflict still exists. This decision doesn’t settle the core constitutional issue of whether nondiscriminating policies in general can force religious student groups to allow non-believers to lead their groups. Long-term, the decision puts other student groups across the country at risk, and we will continue to fight for their constitutional rights. The Hastings policy actually requires CLA to allow atheists to lead its Bible studies and the College Democrats to accept the election of Republican officers in order for the groups to be recognized on campus. We agree with Justice Alito in his dissent that the court should have rejected this as absurd.”

Other news

  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday to extend the federally protected right to keep and bear arms in all 50 states, reports Fox News and other news sources. Gun rights advocates are hailing the decision and comes over opposition of gun control groups, the city of Chicago, and four of the justices.
  • Liberty University has terminated Ergun Caner as dean of its seminary, after allegations he fabricated or embellished facts about his Muslim past, according to onenewsnow.com. He will remain on the seminary faculty, however. A coalition of Muslim and Christian bloggers, along with pastors and other concerned people, led the charge. A key critic, Rev. James White, who attempted to expose Caner’s inconsistencies, called the school’s action inadequate. On his blog, White said Liberty is “protecting its own interests, at the cost of full disclosure, rather than acting like a Christian institution with Christian standards and morals.” Some sources suggest differences that have occurred between Caner and White over Calvinism. Also, Christianity Today reported that Elmer Towns, 77, believes opposition germinated when Caner accused SBC International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin of lying in a February podcast. Caner charged that “the IMB is teaching heresy” for using the “Camel Method” of evangelizing Muslims. He later expressed regret for the personal attack. Caner and other Camel Method critics believe this controversial method is deceptive and suggests that the Qur’an has credibility as God’s sacred word. “Ergun has publicly apologized for certain exaggerations and for letting his enthusiasm carry him away,” Towns said.  “He realizes now that his attack mentality is inappropriate.”
  • Social and religious conservatives are making their case against Elena Kagan, whom President Obama wants on the Supreme Court to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, a leading liberal on the bench, reports bpnews.net. Among the concerns are Kagan’s financial support for the National Partnership for Women and Families, an abortion group; her clerkship for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who supported legalized abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion; her urging of President Clinton to support a bill that would have siphoned votes from a bill banning partial-birth abortion; and her criticism of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Rasmussen Reports finds that 42 percent of voters oppose her, compared with 35 percent who do. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association is being criticized for collaborating with the Left for prohibiting its board from testifying in the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings about the Second Amendment, reports RedState.com.  The gag order on board members was said to not be limited to providing testimony, but prohibiting board members from coming out against Kagan in their individual capacity. WorldNetDaily reports that homeschoolers around the country are alarmed over Kagan’s words and actions, which demonstrate a belief that the U.S. Constitution needs to be examined through a lens of international opinion. The Home School Legal Defense Association is concerned that Kagan will push the Supreme Court to consider a pair of dangerous United Nations treaties: the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. “These are dangerous treaties because they would severely restrict parental rights and homeschooling,” states the HSLDA. Senate Republicans pledged Sunday to scrutinize Kagan’s liberal activism and lack of judicial experience, reports Fox News. “She has the least experience of any nominee at least in the last 50 years,” noted Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.).
  • Liberals want a bill passed that would severely limit free speech, warns Personal Liberty Digest. The bill would in effect protect incumbents in the upcoming election by limiting the spending of political advertising on the part of those companies that oppose these lawmakers. The bill does not affect the way unions spend, in contrast, “and liberals in Congress think that’s fair,” notes writer Bob Livingston.  The bill reverses the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in Citizen vs. FEC that upheld the right of corporations to spend on political advertising in candidate elections.
  • A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by the Institute for Creation Research that attempted to force the state of Texas to allow it to offer masters degrees in science education at its school, reports the San Antonio Express-News. ICR took the position that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board violated its constitutional right to free speech and religion. School representatives said they may appeal. The National Center for Science Education cheered the decision, as it defends the theory of evolution.
  • Parents in Shenandoah, Iowa, are outraged after young teenagers were instructed on graphic sexual acts during Planned Parenthood sex education at the local high school. “It was horribly inappropriate,” Colleen Dostal told Fox News Radio, who said that photos used were pornographic. The principal apologized, but several other parents decided to take the issue to the school superintendent, who said he received an equal number of calls supporting and opposing the PP presentation. The superintendent said that parents would receive advanced warning next year.
  • Joni Eareckson Tada, 60, who has been a blessing to countless people through her story of courage and faith after being paralyzed from the neck down 43 years ago,  now has malignant breast cancer, reports The Christian Post. “I want to assure you that I am genuinely content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me,” said Tada in a statement.
  • Local authorities in Dearborn, Mich., home to a substantial Muslim population, now enforce sharia in preference to the U.S. Constitution, reports powerlineblog.com. Police recently arrested four Christian missionaries for “disorderly conduct,” which consisted of handing out copies of the gospel outside an Arab cultural festival.
  • Forty-eight percent of American adults see the government as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of these rights, finds Rasmussen Reports. And a Wall Street Journal poll indicates that confidence in President Obama is now at an all-time low, with 62 percent of the adults surveyed feeling that the country is on the wrong track.