InterVarsity Christian Fellowship filed a federal lawsuit against Wayne State University on Tuesday after it was derecognized as an official student group by the Michigan public school because of a policy requiring its leaders to be Christian.
Although InterVarsity has been recognized as a student group on the Detroit campus for over 75 years, that all changed in October 2017 when the Wayne State chapter was booted off campus because of a policy that the school administration deemed “discriminatory.”
According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan, the InterVarsity chapter’s troubles began when it applied to renew its status as an official student organization.
Although the leaders of the group thought the renewal would be automatic, they were told by the Dean of Students’ office that the requirement in the chapter’s constitution that leaders be Christian is unacceptable.
Despite the group’s long history at the school, no issue had been raised with the leadership policy until last year.
“Wayne State — an arm of the Michigan State government — makes the remarkable claim that it violates university policies for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to choose only Christian leaders rather than Jewish, Muslim, or atheist ones,” the lawsuit filed by lawyers with the religious freedom nonprofit Becket explains.
The lawsuit claims that the university is guilty of discrimination because it allows other student groups to have a qualification requirement when selecting their leadership.
“Wayne State rightly allows fraternities to have only male leaders, female athletic clubs to have only female leaders, and African-American clubs to have only African-American leaders,” the lawsuit states. “But Wayne State cannot then say it is wrong for a Christian club to have only Christian leaders.”
The lawsuit also points out that Wayne State recognizes the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association as a student organization even though the group’s website states that its purpose is to “bring Ahmadi Muslim youth together in university.”
According to Becket, the university recognizes over 400 student groups. The university allows the Secular Student Alliance to require its leaders be secularists and allows the Students for Life chapter to require that its students be pro-life.
“Simply put, Wayne State is unconstitutionally targeting InterVarsity because of InterVarsity’s religious beliefs,” the lawsuit states. “As an arm of the state of Michigan, Wayne State is subject to Michigan anti-discrimination law, which prohibits religious discrimination in educational institutions.”
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Source: Christian Post