In another example of “non-discrimination rules gone wild,” the Tufts Community Union Judiciary denied official student club status to the Tufts Christian Fellowship earlier this month because of its requirements in its student constitution that its leaders “adhere to a series of tenets called a Basis of Faith, or eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity,” according to the Tufts Daily. The Tufts Christian Fellowship, which is affiliated with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, plans to appeal the denial. A recognized student group is allowed to use the Tufts name, meet in Tufts facilities and apply for student fee funding, according to the Tufts Daily.
Because Tufts is a private school and not a government university it does not have to obey the First Amendment and can openly deny recognition to groups that do not agree with its mission. But that does not seem to be the case here, because the Christian group is being denied recognition because of its Christian beliefs, not because its beliefs conflict with the mission of Tufts.
An editorial in the Tufts Daily shows the confused thinking. While acknowledging that “evangelical Christianity has a place and should be represented with an official organization in the Tufts community,” it also requires Tufts Christian Fellowship to allow any student to become a leader, “regardless of his or her specific religious belief.” How can Tufts Christian Fellowship faithfully represent evangelical Christianity on campus, if it must allow people who disagree with it to serve as its leaders? It is doubtful that Tufts requires any other student organization to accept as leaders students who disagree with its viewpoints.
The Tufts Daily argues that the Christian group “must abide by Tufts’ values.” If Tufts’ values are to single out religious groups and require only them to accept non-adherents as their leaders, then Tufts treats religious groups as second class on campus. Tufts should not apply its nondiscrimination policy in such a superficial and inconsistent manner.