By Tom Quiner

The Supreme Court has decided:  Christian college students who wish to form a group sanctioned by Universities are not allowed to require that their members be Christian.  Even more, Christian groups may not require that their members abide by Christian principles.

All of this came about because of the court’s decision in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.  Read the background on the case on my earlier post titled “Political correctness vs. common sense” (https://quinersdiner.com/2010/04/).

The liberal block of the court was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy.  They determined that a Christian group acted inappropriately in demanding that their members refrain from sexual activity outside of marriage, and that sexual relations be confined to only heterosexual married couples.  Specifically, the court said that the Christian Legal Society overtly discriminated against prospective members on the basis of religion and sexual orientation.

College students have been denied the right of freedom of association, a ringing triumph for political correctness over common sense.  Here is what Justice Alito, joined by Justices Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, wrote in dissent:

Justice Alito's dissent

“The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’ United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

“The Hastings College of the Law, a state institution, permits student organizations to register with the law school and severely burdens speech by unregistered groups. Hastings currently has more than 60 registered groups and, in all its history, has denied registration to exactly one: the Christian Legal Society (CLS).  CLS claims that Hastings refused to register the group because the law school administration disapproves of the group’s viewpoint and thus violated the group’s free speech rights.

“I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that today’s decision is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country. Our First Amendment reflects a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964). Even if the United States is the only Nation that shares this commitment to the same extent, I would not change our law to conform to the international norm. I fear that the Court’s decision marks a turn in that direction. Even those who find CLS’s views objectionable should be concerned about the way the group has been treated—by Hastings, the Court of Appeals, and now this Court. I can only hope that this decision will turn out to be an aberration.”

I discussed the issue with a law student enrolled at Duke University.  I told him that my concern was that individuals unfriendly to Christian groups would be emboldened to join those groups just to agitate and disrupt the group’s Christian mission.  He countered that no one would want to subject themselves to such an effort, that no one would want to associate with people with whom they had such profound disagreements.

What do you think?

Are there enough evangelical atheists on college campuses, for example, who would band together to try to hijack a Christian group on a college campus?

Am I being too sensitive?  Or are the forces of political correctness that motivated to disrupt Christian and other conservative groups?

No Comments

  1. BC on June 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    When the Duke law student started his statement with “no one would want to” then a red flag should be put up. Can he really say “no one” unless he knows “everyone” and what they would do? That type of blanket statement shows a narrow line of thinking. Ex. I saw an article about a Buddhist monk that poured gas on himself and lit himself on fire. Who would want to do that? No one, right? But, apparently that monk did.

    I think that all people should be very nervous about this judgment. Just because this isnt pointed at someone’s group right now doesnt mean that it wont be in the future. When will Hastings college decide that other groups have “unreasonable” restrictions?

  2. Lori on July 3, 2010 at 7:48 am

    *No one would want to subject themselves to such an effort…
    *Are there enough (insert any group here) who would want to band together to try to hijack a Christian group on a college campus?

    The first statement is ridiculous. How much effort would it take to learn how to fly an airplane and then fly oneself into a building for one’s cause? I’d say quite a bit of effort.

    To answer your question: no, you are not being too sensitive, and, I’ll answer your other question with a question: how many people DOES it take to disrupt or “hijack” a group that one is hatefully opposed to. Just one, right?

    I would like to see the uproar that would occur if this same ruling was applied to other groups. It seems to me that it is politically incorrect to be a Christian in this nation that was founded on Christianity and religious freedom.

    A public university that allows one club needs to allow them all. Period. And for a university to deny only one student organization, a Christian one, is troubling. Really? Is this the worst and most offensive organization this university has seen?

    But I have another question. Why are public universities funding any such student organization? Allowing them to register seems appropriate and practical; it allows other like minded individuals to find an organization to which they would like to belong. Allowing them to peacefully assemble on university property seems appropriate, even if they are getting together to discuss views that I may be opposed to. But funding? That comes from MY tax dollar and MY tuition payment. These dollars should be spent for classrooms and teachers and books, not clubs. Club money should come from bake sales.

    • quinersdiner on July 5, 2010 at 8:41 am

      I agree with you. Here in Des Moines, evangelical atheists have advertised on buses to gain converts. They seem to be willing to go the extra mile to make their case. Thanks for writing.

      • BC on July 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

        Im not sure that advertising on buses is at the same level as an underground infiltration to undermine a Christian group. The buses are simple advertisements and churches do the same thing, so im not sure it can be viewed in a negative way for one group but positive for the other.

        The atheists im concerned about are the ones who take time out of their day to run to the courthouse and file lawsuits against the 10 commandments, or a cross memorial in the desert for WWII veterans, or refuse a Christian group to require certain morals. These are the people who hate God with such a passion that they seethe and soak in anger. These are the people who are driven to unreasonable approaches. And these are the people that we should pity and pray for. To live life driven by anger is a sad thing.

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