Monday, July 4, 2016

Supreme Court takes on Christianity versus homophobia

Can the law tell a Christian group what to believe?
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There’s an interesting case before the Supremes this week: Can Hastings College of Law at USC ban the student group called the Christian Legal Society because it requires its members to agree to the biblical injunction against homosexuality?

At the core of the issue is a campus policy that requires any student group to be open to all, "regardless of gender, race, creed, age, color, national origin, physical disability, or sexual orientation."

I am certainly no Supreme Court justice, but I don’t need to be: Justice Scalia already put it better than I could. He wondered why you would “require the campus Republican club to admit Democrats.”


There are a number of student organizations at Hastings, as there are at most colleges. For example, there is a student group calling itself the Black Law Students Association. Their bylaws state that among their purposes are “to provide an environment that will promote unity and camaraderie among black students,” and “to influence society as well as the legal community to bring about meaningful change in the legal system to meet the needs of the black community.” Now, if I were, say, a member of the Aryan Resistance, would I be welcome to join that organization?

How about the Hastings Animal Law Society? Their bylaws state that they are “dedicated to the goals of educating the law school and surrounding community about forms of institutionalized animal abuse, and engaging in projects that combat that abuse.” Is it safe to assume that they would disapprove of, if not blackball, any student who admitted to a fondness for Farmer John’s pork sausage? Or, what about the Hastings Jewish Law Students Association? They “provide a forum for Jewish students to meet and network.” I don’t imagine they would appreciate me munching on Farmer John’s pork sausage either. How about the Hastings Catholic Law Students Association, whose intent is “to provide a forum for students to meet, network and celebrate the Catholic faith.” Would I be welcome to go there and discuss my views of the Catholic church?

An example that is even more on point: There is a student group called Hastings OUTLAW. Their stated purpose is: “To promote a positive atmosphere at Hastings for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered, and queer students. This includes educating the community at large in order to alleviate and eradicate homophobia and other affronts to human dignity.” What kind of a welcome do you suppose they would give to the students who have been forced to abandon the Hastings Christian Legal Society? And, would Hastings College be as quick to kill their charter if the OUTLAWS were accused of, not welcoming those students, but calling them ‘homophobes’ instead? Or would the school administrators be too concerned about being labeled homophobes themselves?

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