Christian group ousted from California universities, back on campus

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
InterVarsity and CSU, reach an agreement regarding state-mandated non-discrimantion policy. | InterVarsity/SCREEN SHOT

MADISON, Wis. (Christian Examiner) -- InterVarsity Christian Fellowship announced in a press release June 19 it will again be recognized as a student group at California State University campuses.

Last September, the Wisconsin-based international campus ministry lost recognition of 23 chapters on 19 California State University (CSU) campuses because the group forbids non-Christian and LGBTQ students from serving in leadership roles throughout the organization. General membership is available to all.

As an unrecognized group InterVarsity was forced to take its gatherings throughout the 2014-2015 academic year off-campus because of funding limitations and restricted access to on-campus facilities.

According to a statement from the ministry, an agreement was reached through "cordial ongoing conversations" regarding the state-mandated nondiscrimination policy after CSU clarified its intention for the Executive Order 1068.

"In a time where much of the public discourse is polarized, InterVarsity and CSU remained engaged, honest, and respectful throughout the negotiations," InterVarsity Interim President Jim Lundgren said.

Emphasizing the importance of diversity, Lundgren stated that InterVarsity's Christian faith welcomed all people and suggested the long-time student ministry was among the most diverse groups on the CSU campuses.

Though the organization did not specify what kind of compromise was reached between the InterVarsity and CSU, the release suggested the agreement was reached without compromise to its leadership standards.

"We maintain our commitment to provide campus communities that are clearly Christian, where all students can experience and learn more about Christian community, theology, and practice," Lungden said. He added "We are confident we can choose leaders who are qualified to lead InterVarsity's witnessing communities throughout the Cal State system."

Lungden also noted that while a resolution was reached with CSU, the ministry still faced the challenges of "all-comers" policies on other college campuses in California as well as schools in other states including New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Maine, Iowa, and Florida.

"While we are grateful to have resolved the issue with CSU, InterVarsity continues to believe that all-comers policies will result in the exclusion, rather than inclusion, of diverse students from campus."

In a recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research while Americans varied in their opinion of whether religious student groups like InterVarstity should require adherence to a set of doctrinal beliefs, most can agree they do not want to see an organization punished for it if they do.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA was established on U.S. colleges and universities in 1947 and has a total of 985 chapters on 649 campuses.