Tolerance and diversity are all the rage on college campuses these days. And for the University of Michigan, a Christian group that requires its leaders to be Christians is allegedly beyond any standard of decency.
The Asian chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Michigan requires students in leadership positions to sign a statement of faith. Members of the group says school officials banned the group until it amends its constitution to conform to the prestigious school’s non-discrimination policy, reports Fox News.
“The university is sending the message that religious voices are suspect and should be marginalized,” Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s national field director, told Fox News. “I think it sends the message that the university does not understand the nature of religious beliefs and the convictions of religious students.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the University of Michigan said that registered student organizations must “sign the university’s standard non-discrimination agreement” and “submit their constitution for review” as a condition of registration.
“At this point in the current school year, Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has not completed this process,” the spokesperson added.
However, members of the group say school officials demanded a meeting last December and told them that the school had a problem with the group’s rules concerning eligibility for leadership positions.
Sara Chang, an InterVarsity staff member at the University of Michigan, told Fox News that the group elected to stand on religious principle rather than kowtow to the administration’s request for an altered constitution.
“For us, there’s no other option than to hold to the tenets of our faith,” Chang said. “We want to model a lifestyle of integrity. Holding the Bible as the inspired, divine word of God and seeing the commands for us to choose leaders who have a vibrant faith in Jesus is obviously something very important that we want to continue to uphold.”
The consequence of Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s decision is that the group is no longer recognized on the University of Michigan’s hallowed campus. The underground group cannot participate in official campus life and has been forced to meet off campus.
Things are likely to get worse. InterVarsity has a total of 10 sub-chapters at the school. Jao expects the rest of them will soon be forced to choose between religious conviction and campus recognition.
“The sad place that we’ve arrived at is that certain campuses — in pursuit of tolerance and diversity — are now saying they will use those standards to discriminate and marginalize viewpoints they disagree with,” Jao told Fox News.
“I can’t imagine the Muslim Student Association saying you don’t have to be a Muslim to help lead our group,” he added. “I think the university’s decision will impact any religious group that’s being honest about their leadership criteria.”