The Religious, Non-Religious Club

Apparently through the miracles of bureaucratic logic, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro has determined that a Christian student group at the school isn’t actually religious and must, therefore, operate rather differently.

According to a piece posted on the website of the Alliance Defense Fund:

UNC-Greensboro’s nondiscrimination policy contains an exemption for student groups that select their members based on a shared set of beliefs. The exemption states, “Student groups that select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs (e.g., religious or political beliefs) may limit membership and participation in the group to students who, upon individual inquiry, affirm that they support the group’s goals and agree with its beliefs.”

The “Make Up Your Own Mind” club at UNC-Greensboro applied for recognition under this exemption, but university officials denied the request, saying that the club is not religious even though the club has a clear religious mission and purpose and requires its members and leaders to agree with its statement of faith and beliefs about the value of innocent human life.

The university declined to recognize the group for months, finally permitting recognition under this interesting standard. By the institution’s rules the club “must allow students of other religions and belief systems to become leaders and members as a condition to being a recognized group,” according to the article.

The school’s rules seem bizarre, essentially forcing a deliberately religious organization to pretend that it’s a nonreligious one. It is worth pointing out, however, that also seems very unlikely that there are a signification number of non-Christian students at UNC-Greensboro eager to join and lead a Christian group.

The club is now suing the school.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer