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Michigan School Boots Christian Student Group for Leaders Affirming Their Faith

Wayne State University campus in Detroit, Michigan (Wikimedia Commons )
A Christian student group is suing a Michigan university after the school revoked the group's campus privileges.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is a student-led campus ministry that has served students at Wayne State University (WSU) for the last 75 years. Now, school officials have stripped the group of official recognition because they require its leaders to affirm their Christian faith.

Lori Windham, senior legal counsel at Becket, represents InterVarsity. She told CBN News Wayne State de-recognized the group because InterVarsity requires its Bible study leaders to be Christians.

"We think that Wayne State is engaging in religious discrimination by de-recognizing InterVarsity. Wayne State allows college Democrats to have democratic leaders," she said. "It allows Muslims, Jewish and Hindu student groups to say that they are there to serve their communities. It allows fraternities to have only men and sororities to allow only women. I think it's just the same to allow InterVarsity to have Christians as its Bible study leaders." 

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Wayne State is one of the oldest InterVarsity chapters in the country and has held weekly Bible studies, meetings and organized service opportunities on campus for a number of years. It is open to students of all backgrounds but stipulates that leaders must adhere to its tenets of faith.

In October, the WSU dean of students declined to renew the organization's status for the 2017-2018 school year. They claim the group's constitution violates the school's discrimination policy.

"It means that they are not allowed to be at a student organization fair to recruit new students," Winham explained. "They are not able to advertise to new students on the school's website. They are not able to reserve free rooms anytime they are ready to rent a room and have a Bible study. They have to pay a fee just like an outside vendor in order to do that."

InterVarsity is now suing the Wayne State University Board of Governors, President Roy Wilson, state officials and others, claiming its Constitutional rights have been violated, according to the lawsuit.

"InterVarsity just wants to continue to serve Wayne State students as we have for 75 years," said Greg Jao, InterVarsity director of external relations. "Students should be able to find a campus community which reflects their faith tradition with authenticity and integrity." 

Becket is working with InterVarsity to get the organization reinstated on campus.

"They've been on this campus for 75 years, and they hope to be there 75 more," Windham said.

CBN News reached out to Wayne State University for comment. The school has not yet responded to our inquiries.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, all rights reserved.

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