The California State University system will no longer provide support – financial or otherwise – to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because it refuses to allow non-Christians to lead its campus groups. That means the 23-campus public university system, which enrolls roughly 450,000 students, has dealt a huge and highly discriminatory blow to its most active student-led Christian campus organization statewide.
The decision is based on so-called “all-comers” policies, which force officially recognized campus clubs to accept student leaders who do not hold their core beliefs if those campus groups want to receive funding from the student government, discounts on university room rentals, recognition in campus announcements and directories, and similar perks. It’s done in the name of anti-discrimination, with little to no regard for the First Amendment or freedom of association.
“It is essentially asking InterVarsity chapters to change the core of their identity, and to change the way they operate in order to be an officially recognized student group,” Greg Jao, national field director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, said regarding the Cal State University dictate.
“While we applaud inclusivity, we believe that faith-based communities like ours can only be led by people who clearly affirm historic Christian doctrine,” Jao adds. “The policy exempts sororities and fraternities from gender discrimination; we believe there should be a similar provision for creedal communities.”
Put more bluntly, “how can we effectively teach people?” Ashley Pierce, a Bible study leader in the Chinese Christian Fellowship at California Polytechnic State University, recently said in an interview with The College Fix regarding the edict. “It’s a stupid rule; it has no place in Christian groups.”
Pierce said the policy forces her campus group to accept non-Christians in leadership positions that require faith-based elements such as praying and evangelism.
“Their job is to lead prayers, lead Bible studies, in some cases preaching,” Pierce said. “If you’re an atheist or agnostic, you’re going to have struggles, but you won’t have Christian struggles. You can’t give real-life examples and pour into it as someone living the faith would.”
But it’s a growing trend on campuses across the nation, including at Vanderbilt University, Tufts University and Bowdoin College, which have approved similar policies.