Jul 29, 2006

I don't want to join any club that will accept me as a member

So said Groucho Marx, on more than one occasion.

The inverse is found a a case currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, after a federal district court ruled that Kentridge High School can refuse to recognize a Bible club that won't give heathens full voting membership.

A little research shows that this ruling repudiates the decision in Hsu v. Roslyn Union Free School District No. 3:
We conclude that the club's Christian officer requirement, as applied to some of the club's officers, is essential to the expressive content of the meetings and to the group's preservation of its purpose and identity, and is therefore protected by the Equal Access Act. This application of the Act is constitutional because the school's recognition of the club will not draw the school into an establishment of religion or impair the school's efforts to prevent invidious discrimination.
I'll be interested to see how the 9th Circuit responds to that (nonbinding) line of reasoning by the 2nd District.

Update: Stupid error confusing the 9th Circuit and the district court corrected. That's what I get for trying to play legal expert.


Peter said...

Oh, what fun, the culture wars.

See, I look at cases like this and think, "Now, why are the Christians so adamant about having an on-campus club, anyway?" Because, as we all know, Christians who want to get together have loads of opportunities outside of public schools. When I was in high school, we circumvented the legal problems by having our Bible study meetings at church instead of at school. Once a week, after school, we all met up at church. Since people had to get from school to church, those who were able to drive would give rides to those who couldn't. It was fantastic and totally legal.

Of course, we weren't even concerned about legality, because it never really occurred to us that our private Christian gathering should happen on campus.

So why, I have to wonder, are some Christians so adamant about having on-campus groups that they are willing to take their argument all the way up the federal court system?


Could it be that they're more interested in waging a culture war than they are in practicing their own faith? Might it be possible that rather than using their time and money and energy to, say, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, or even just cultivate their own spiritual lives, they are really more interested in using their time and money and energy to bludgeon our predominantly non-Christian culture with litigation?

Yes, ours is a predominantly non-Christian culture. It just happens that a majority of our citizens claim Christianity as their personal religion-of-choice. But having lots of Christians a "Christian culture" does not make. This is a materialist, capitalist, (still mostly) democratic-republican, individualist, freedom-loving culture.

So why can't Christians exercise their individualism and freedom to run their religious clubs off-campus? Would that really hurt them so much?

But, since we're still a mostly free country, I am not going to insist on that, or require it, or suggest that we require it. I just want to point out that lots and lots of Christians manage to practice their religion without having to litigate their rights to do so, mostly because they know how to practice their religion without smacking into the rights of others.

Jim said...

Ironically, the ACLJ's successful litigation was based on the existence of Gay-Straight Alliances on campus--which some Christian groups still oppose.

Freedom for me, but not for thee.