ADF to defend Christian student groups facing discrimination at two California universities

Four Christian student groups pressured to accept members and leaders that do not share their beliefs
Monday, November 28, 2005

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Alliance Defense Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit today against San Diego State University and California State University, Long Beach, on behalf of four student Christian groups facing discrimination on those campuses.  The lawsuit is part of ADF’s University Project, a nationwide effort to defend Christian student groups at universities across the nation from the discrimination they often face by campus officials.

“The right of association applies to all groups on campus,” said Jeremy Tedesco, litigation staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.  “All student groups have a right to elect officers and members who share that group’s values or belief system.  These universities are requiring Christian organizations to accept members who disagree with their beliefs and viewpoints, violating these students’ First Amendment rights.”

The universities’ so-called “nondiscrimination” policies force Christian groups to abandon their Christian beliefs as a condition to gain access to the benefits recognized student groups enjoy, including meeting on campus, receiving university funding, and accessing the primary channels for communicating their message on campus.  Because the Board of Trustees of California State University governs all 23 Cal State school campuses, ADF’s filing of the lawsuit has ramifications for the entire Cal State school system.

“University officials would never require that the student vegetarian club allow meat eaters or hunters to lead their organization,” said Tedesco.  “The ultimate impact of this policy will be to either eliminate Christian clubs from campus or dilute them to the point where they are no longer Christian.”

ADF’s clients include local chapters of Every Nation Campus Ministries at San Diego State University and California State Long Beach, as well as Alpha Gamma Omega and Alpha Delta Chi, a fraternity and a sorority at San Diego State University.  Three of these Christian student groups require their members and officers to profess their faith in Jesus Christ and adhere to a biblical code of conduct.  The other group applies these requirements to their officers only.  Each group’s code of conduct prohibits sexual conduct outside the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman.  This restriction applies to both heterosexual and homosexual conduct.

The full text of the complaint filed today in the case Every Nation Campus Ministries at San Diego State University v. Achtenberg in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California can be read here.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.