Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Principles Collide on College Campuses

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Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Principles Collide on College Campuses

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision favoring the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. The court saw no First Amendment violation by the school in its anti-discriminatory policy on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said “it was constitutionally permissible for public institutions of higher education to require recognized student groups to accept all students who wished to participate in them,” as reported in the New York Times.

This decision may have been the watershed in the survival of campus ministries on secular universities across the nation. Given its theological and doctrinal stance—especially on sexual orientation—InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has now been denied campus access by California State University, America’s largest university system with 450,000 students on 23 campuses.  This IVCF struggle comes at the heels of much public discussion that included a New York Times article and a Denver Post editorial.

Although some schools have reversed their policy to allow continuation of freedom of worship and leadership selection, there is a growing fear among many that this could be the “tipping point” in campus ministries. Broadly speaking, every concerned Christian should be alarmed at the growing number of attacks on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. These attacks have also affected businesses and churches.

From an Adventist perspective, these challenges are slowly fulfilling Bible prophecies. Revelation 13 predicted the erosion of religious freedom that will ultimately lead to persecution with or without prosecution of those who hold to “the Bible and the Bible alone” as the timeless and inerrant guide in matters of theology and moral decisions.

(Photo: Walter Pyramid on the California State Long Beach campus. Photo by Buchanan-Hermit from Wikimedia Commons.)

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Valmy Karemera is associate editor of The Compass Magazine and posts daily news updates on the Compass Twitter page. Originally from Rwanda, he now lives and works in Texas with his family.