Ratio Christi, a Christian apologetics organization, was in danger of dying out on the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus.
You see, UCCS officials had denied Ratio Christi registered status, limiting its access to funding, meeting and event space, and administrative support – which made recruiting new members especially difficult.
Ratio Christi seeks to defend the Christian faith and explain how the Bible applies to various current cultural, ethical, and political issues. The group welcomes people from all different backgrounds, beliefs, and political views. It’s had atheists and Hindus attend meetings to learn more about Christ. And any student who joins the group can feel comfortable asking questions or thinking deeply about a variety of issues.
Sounds like a great group, doesn’t it? So why deny it registered status?
Well, Ratio Christi asks its leaders to hold to the beliefs and mission that are in line with the beliefs and mission of its organization. And that’s where it went wrong, according to UCCS officials.
But Christian students shouldn’t be forced to let atheists or other non-Christians to lead their Bible studies in order to become a registered club – which is why Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on Ratio Christi’s behalf.
Thankfully, in response, UCCS agreed to settle the lawsuit. According to the settlement, UCCS will grant Ratio Christi registered status, pay over $20,500 in damages and attorneys’ fees, and update its policies so that other groups like Ratio Christi will not be singled out by the university to be put on the sidelines.
This is great news! And ultimately the university will benefit.
Under its previous policy, UCCS officials could have denied registered status to any student organization that selects leaders that share and will advocate for the group’s religious or political philosophy.
But would UCCS force a vegetarian group to elect a meat-lover as its president? Or an animal rights group to elect a recreational hunter? Of course not – that would be ridiculous!
And like any other student group at a public university, religious and political student organizations should be free to choose their leaders without government meddling.
Instead of recognizing and protecting this right, however, UCCS used this policy to target Ratio Christi.
But it chose the wrong student group. By standing up for its First Amendment rights, Ratio Christi made a difference for all student groups on campus – protecting the right of all UCCS students to freely associate with the student organizations that share their beliefs.
And thankfully, UCCS chose to correct course, encourage diversity of thought, and protect students’ constitutional freedoms.
All of its students will be better off for it.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that will outline how some key courtroom victories help protect freedom in five critical areas.
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