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What does nondiscrimination mean for campus religious groups?




A crucifix hangs on a wall as a teacher leaves the classroom in Viterbo on July 1, 2010. In California, the Cal State University system is now mandating that all students, regardless of sexual orientation, be allowed in leadership roles in clubs.
A crucifix hangs on a wall as a teacher leaves the classroom in Viterbo on July 1, 2010. In California, the Cal State University system is now mandating that all students, regardless of sexual orientation, be allowed in leadership roles in clubs.
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

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This summer Cal State, the largest university system in the U.S., will join the growing group of universities at odds with campus religious student groups as the chancellor prepares to withdraw recognition from certain evangelical clubs.

Many universities, Cal State included, require religious groups to sign nondiscrimination policies pledging not to discriminate on the basis of religion when it comes to leadership selection.

Evangelical groups in particular have contested these policies, arguing that while they don’t discriminate when allowing members into organizations, leadership is different, and allowing a club leader whose religious or personal identity is in conflict with the beliefs of the group would against their religion.

Members of campus religious groups argue that to lead a Bible study or a religious meeting, you have to believe – many groups expect student leaders to abide by a religious lifestyle. Often this includes restrictions about sexuality and abstinence. Colleges that have removed official recognition from religious groups that won’t abide by campus nondiscrimination policies say that these clubs should be about education and inclusivity.

Should campus religious groups be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion? How should a public school like Cal State handle non-discrimination practices?

Guests:  

Susan Westover, lawyer for the California State University System

Greg Jao, National Field Director for the Northeast InterVarsity Christian Fellowship