Common sense has prevailed in a court ruling on Monday this week. An American Federal court ruled in favour of a Christian student organisation that had its official club status revoked by Wayne State University for requiring its leadership to be Christians. The university de-registered Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) in October 2017, claiming that it discriminated against non-Christians. IVCF has been a part of the University for nearly 40 years, running Bible Studies and promoting Christian fellowship among the student body. It is open to all students, but the university deemed it as “discriminatory” because of its insistence that its leaders be Christians.
When the case was finally heard in court this week, the judge ruled that the university’s actions “strike at the heart” of the First Amendment and are “obviously odious to the Constitution”. He referred to the university’s “disparate and discriminatory” treatment of a religious group, which violates the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause, and stated that the attempt to dictate the club’s leadership was “categorically barred by the Constitution”.
Thank goodness common sense prevailed and the judge was prepared to stand up to this instance of anti-Christian discrimination. But sadly, this kind of discrimination is becoming endemic within the woke movement. After all, no one in the woke community is insisting that gay organisations allow non-gays into their leadership, or Marxist organisations allow non-Marxists to become leaders! There is an aggressive anti-Christian agenda that is creeping into many of our educational institutions and community groups. It masquerades as a push for equality and fairness but it is not even-handed. Christians and Christian organisations are being specifically targeted. Wayne State University is a case in point. The university did not target any other group on campus. They did not demand that ethnic groups allow non-ethnics into leadership. They did not demand that groups based on gender identity or political ideology allow people not aligned with those ideologies into leadership. Only Christians were targeted.
In fact, the judge pointed out this inconsistency in his ruling, and was scathing towards the university. He pointed out that other groups were able to restrict leadership based upon “sex, gender identity, political partisanship, ideology, creed, ethnicity, GPA or attractiveness” but that this “small group of Christians were denied those same benefits because they required their leaders to be Christian.”
I wish this case at Wayne State University was an isolated one, but it isn’t. Last month, another court case came to an end where the University of Iowa had de-registered the student group, Business Leaders in Christ, for insisting that its leaders be Christians. Fortunately, the judge issued a similar finding, arguing that the university was unfairly discriminating against the Christian group.
These cases are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a growing wave of anti-Christian sentiment within society. It is being led by a minority of aggressive atheists who have seized upon woke philosophy as a convenient means of disenfranchising and marginalising Christianity, and many of our traditional institutions and organisations are falling into line. They are afraid of being called out themselves, so they are dancing to the piper’s tune. Councils, businesses, community groups, schools and universities have been swept up in a wave of ‘wokeness’ and are often unthinkingly adopting a blatantly discriminatory anti-Christian stance. In their rush to embrace the new ‘open-minded’ approach to accepting people of all beliefs and ideologies, many organisations seem oblivious to the hypocrisy of their increasingly discriminatory policies towards Christians.
Some brave judges are standing up to it, refusing to accept such a blatantly inconsistent and discriminatory approach to a particular group within society. But we must all speak up. The aggressive atheists within society mustn’t be allowed to dictate to the rest of society. Atheists and woke extremists are free to believe or disbelieve whatever they want, but they do not have the right to force their ideology upon everyone. Christians have just as much right to exist and practice their beliefs as do all other ideologies. Our Constitution guarantees that right and we must do all we can to preserve and protect that freedom.
Kevin Simington (B.Th. Dip. Min.) is a theologian, apologist and social commentator. He is the author of 13 books, and his latest, “Reconnecting with God”, is now available. Connect with Kevin on Facebook or his website, SmartFaith.net.