The Story: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a campus religious liberty case---ADX v. Reed---experts had hoped would give Christian groups more freedom to operate at secular schools, reports WORLD.

The Background: In 2005, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit against San Diego State University and California State University, Long Beach, on behalf of four student Christian groups---a fraternity, a sorority, and two campus ministries. The groups had a requirement that its members and officers adhere to and follow a Christian statement of faith and code of conduct. But despite allowing restrictions based on gender (e.g., sororities can exclude men) or political persuasion (e.g., the Campus Democrats can exclude Republicans from being officers), the schools refused to allow Christian groups to have a requirement that its officers be Christians.

"Throughout the years of defending its policy," says the Alliance Defense Fund, "the university did not tell the Democratic club it must be led by a Republican, or the vegetarian club that it must be led by a meat-eater, but it did tell Christian groups that they must allow themselves to be led by atheists."

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favor of the schools. The Alliance Defense Fund had asked the Supreme Court to review the case, but on Monday the justices declined to hear the case.

What It Means: Schools outside of California, including the University of New York at Buffalo and Vanderbilt University, have used the case to justify policies requiring religious groups to open leadership positions to all students, regardless of their beliefs. As WORLD notes, InterVarsity and three other Christian groups have until mid April to submit new constitutions or be kicked off campus.

Despite the current legal status, Christian campus groups can still appeal to the lower courts. If other court ruling contradict ADX v. Reed it is likely that the Supreme Court will eventually take up the case. But in the meantime, many Christian organizations will be forced to decide whether to set aside their statements of faith or leave the campus altogether.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Joe Carter


Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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