Thursday, December 08, 2011

Buffalo Univ. Favors Gays, Suspends Christian Org.

The State University of New York-Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) is investigating the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship charter that requires officers to sign a faith-based statement, even though the university had previously reviewed and approved the charter, after the organization's treasurer resigned due to his active homosexual behavior.

For background, read Christian College Clubs Must Accept Atheists? and also read Supreme Court Ends Christian Witness on Campus as well as Catholics Win vs. University of Wisconsin: Supreme Court

-- From "UB club investigated for discrimination" by Rachel Kingston, posted by Eli George WIVB-TV4 12/7/11

Steven Jackson stepped down as treasurer of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship [IVCF] in November. Now, UB has suspended the club, and is investigating whether its constitution violates anti-discrimination laws.

Until last month, sophomore Steven Jackson was treasurer of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Jackson declined requests for an interview with News 4, but he and his boyfriend have told the UB Spectrum that Jackson felt forced out, because he is gay.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "InterVarsity to Be Derecognized Over Christian Faith Clause?" by Brittany Smith, Christian Post Reporter 12/7/11

JoAnna Datz, president of the Student Association at SUNY Buffalo . . . told The Christian Post that when a club is formed at SUNY Buffalo their constitution is reviewed before they can become recognized. So originally InterVarsity’s constitution was approved. But if they made any changes since its inception, none of those have been reviewed by the SA. It wasn’t until last year, Datz said, that a rule was put in place that any changes to club constitutions must be reviewed.

The investigation committee will be looking over InterVarsity’s constitution. The campus group requires leaders to be in agreement with its doctrinal statement, purpose statement, and living a life of Christian integrity. Membership, however, is open to all.

The requirement that leaders sign a certain set of beliefs is at the heart of the controversy. Datz said this week they have also been debating the differences between membership and leadership in this particular case.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Suspended" by Luke Hammill, Senior News Editor, The Spectrum (University at Buffalo) 12/5/11

The SA [Student Association] Senate decided on Sunday afternoon not to lift the suspension after a plea from Jackson himself on behalf of the club. (Jackson is also the speaker of the SA Assembly.) Jackson is still a member of the club, and he attended a club event on Friday night.

. . . Jackson's statement read "...If [the IVCF's requirement to sign a faith-based agreement] is illegal, I do not blame Intervarsity. I blame the Student Association for failing to properly review club constitutions and inform clubs of their legality."

The [SA investigative] committee will have to decide whether IVCF – as a recipient of $6,000 in public funds via the university's mandatory student activity fee – violated legal and/or university anti-discrimination policy by requiring elected executive board members to sign the faith-based agreement.

But IVCF only requires its executive board members, who are elected by the group at large, to sign the faith-based agreement. IVCF and its defenders maintain that since anyone can become a member, the policy does not also apply to becoming a leader of such an organization.

University officials disagree. In an email, Elizabeth Lidano of Student Affairs [said, in regard to the leader requirement,] "It is also discriminatory."

Article III of the IVCF's constitution states, "Membership and participation in this organization is open to all students and faculty members."

Whether or not IVCF broke the law will depend, among other things, upon interpretations of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a 2010 Supreme Court decision that upheld UC Hastings College of the Law's "all-comers" policy, which barred all university-funded groups from blocking membership or participation based on a student's status or beliefs.

Regardless of the legal interpretation, Lidano's statement indicates that the university will not allow IVCF to require its leaders to sign the faith-based agreement. (It's worth noting that the university might act separately from SA.)

Once an IVCF member is elected to an executive board position, he/she must sign a "leadership agreement," which reads, "I have prayerfully considered this leadership position in my InterVarsity Chapter and am eager to accept it. I am also aware that it will only be possible to be faithful in the responsibilities that come with this role through dependence on the Lord's help and grace.

"Given that my chapter is a part of the larger InterVarsity family, I affirm with my signature below that I have read the InterVarsity-USA Purpose Statement and Basis of Faith, and am able to embrace these," the leadership agreement continues. The next page of the agreement contains the same line about the "entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible."

At Sunday's SA Senate meeting, IVCF Vice President Leslie Varughese said that IVCF members knew Jackson was gay before electing him treasurer.

"We were well aware of Steven's sexual orientation before we even elected the [executive] board," Varughese said. "We knew everything about it, and we still chose him and felt he was right for the job. However, it did not come down to that – it was more on Biblical beliefs, and he no longer felt that he believed in the same things we believed, and that's what differed. It had nothing to do with sexual orientation."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.