Do College Organizations Have The Right To Place Requirements On Their Leaders?

Last month Christian Headlines posted an article about a recent lawsuit against the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The University has demanded that a Christian group must be willing to allow non-Christians and atheists to lead their Bible studies in order to be recognized on campus.

The article reports:

While the school officials declined to comment on the situation, the Alliance Defending Freedom stated that: “The university refused to grant Ratio Christi registered status because it only allows those who share and personally hold beliefs consistent with the group’s mission to serve as its leaders.” 

“As a Christian apologetics organization, Ratio Christi seeks to defend the Christian faith and explain how the Bible applies to various current cultural, ethical, and political issues. Any student can attend its events. Any student of any faith can become a member of Ratio Christi, as long as he supports the group’s purpose. But Ratio Christi requires that those who lead the Christian organization must share its religious beliefs. As a result, the university has denied it registered status, limiting its access to funding, meeting and event space, and administrative support,” said the legal team.

The lawsuit disputes the school’s belief that it can refuse registered status to groups if they choose leaders that agree with the group’s religious outlooks.

Additionally, it notes other biased actions by the school against the Christian group, including that “non-religious groups are allowed to select members who support their purposes. And the university allows fraternities that admit only men and sororities that admit only women to continue as registered student organizations, in contradiction to the university’s policy against ‘discriminating based on sex.’”

Would you allow a member of the Ku Klux Klan to lead a class at the NAACP? Refusing to recognize this group because it requires that leaders support the beliefs of the group is discrimination. I hope the university loses the lawsuit.

Using The Justice System To Get Revenge

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is again going after Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court after declining to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.

The article reports:

On the same day the high court agreed to review the Masterpiece case, an attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillips’ shop and asked him to create a cake celebrating a sex transition. The caller asked that the cake include a blue exterior and a pink interior, a reflection of Scardina’s transgender identity. Phillips declined to create the cake, given his religious conviction that sex is immutable, while offering to sell the caller other pre-made baked goods.

In the months that followed, the bakery received requests for cakes featuring marijuana use, sexually explicit messages, and Satanic symbols. One solicitation submitted by email asked the cake shop to create a three-tiered white cake depicting Satan licking a functional 9 inch dildo. Phillips believes Scardina made all these requests.

Scardina filed a complaint with the civil rights commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The matter was held in abeyance while the Supreme Court adjudicated the Masterpiece case.

Three weeks after Phillips won at the high court, the commission issued a probable cause determination, finding there was sufficient evidence to support Scardina’s claim of discrimination. In a somewhat strange development, the probable cause finding reads that Phillips violated state law, even though the proceedings are still in a preliminary stage.

The article cites Mr. Phillips’ response to all of this:

  • Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop fame is suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
  • The Commission commenced new proceedings against Phillips on behalf of a transgender complainant just weeks after he prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Phillips’ attorneys say the Commission is engaged in a concerted campaign to destroy him, which is unlawful.

This has the appearance of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission using their power to target a specific person. The article notes that the baker was willing to sell Mr. Scardina a pre-baked cake, he was just not willing to use his artistic ability to support something that was against his religious beliefs. If we look at what is being said here, would you ask a Christian recording artist to record a song that praised the devil? Would you ask a painter who paints religious pictures to paint a picture glorifying the devil? Does an artist have the right to choose the direction of his art?

I believe that Mr. Phillips is correct to sue the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It appears that after the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Commission has decided to use its power to personally harass Mr. Phillips.

The People Who Control The Language Control The Argument

The people who control the language control the argument. This was made very clear recently in the debate over Arizona SB 1062. The bill was designed to protect the rights of Christians in the marketplace. The legislature of Arizona felt that the bill was necessary because of various incidents resulting in lawsuits in other states. When the State of Arizona passed the bill through its legislature, the state was threatened with boycotts, loss of the Super Bowl, and various other forms of economic harassment. The bill was labeled ‘anti-gay,’ ‘Jim Crow, and various other things. The opponents controlled the language. The bill is only two pages long. It is written in legalese, but is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

Power Line posted a link to the bill on Tuesday.  Here is the bill:

State of Arizona

Senate

Fifty-first Legislature

Second Regular Session

2014

 SB 1062

Introduced by

Senators Yarbrough: Barto, Worsley

 

 

AN ACT

 

amending sections 41‑1493 and 41‑1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to the free exercise of religion.

  (TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.  Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1.  “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

2.  “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

3.  “Government” includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.

4.  “Nonreligious assembly or institution” includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.

5.  “Person” includes a religious assembly or institution any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.

6.  “Political subdivision” includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.

7.  “Religion‑neutral zoning standards”:

(a)  Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.

(b)  Does not include:

(i)  Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.

(ii)  The ability to raise tax revenues.

8.  “Suitable alternate property” means a financially feasible property considering the person’s revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person’s exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person’s religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person’s religious mission.

9.  “Unreasonable burden” means that a person is prevented from using the person’s property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person’s religious mission.

Sec. 2.  Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.01.  Free exercise of religion protected; definition

A.  Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

C.  Government State action may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it the opposing party demonstrates that application of the burden to the person person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance is both:

1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.

2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.  The person asserting such a claim or defense may obtain appropriate relief.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

E.  In For the purposes of this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

F.  For the purposes of this section, “state action” means any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or application is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons.

 

I have posted the bill in order to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about what the bill said and what the bill didn’t say. Those of us who support family values and religious freedom need to be very aware of what happens when those who oppose these values control the vocabulary.

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