Christian Student Group Claims Religious Discrimination from CSU Stanislaus

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TURLOCK --

A faith-based student organization claims they’ve been discriminated against by CSU Stanislaus but college administrators claim they’re just upholding the law.

Stanislaus Christian Fellowship feels their rights have been violated because of who they allow to lead their organization. CSU Stanislaus recognized groups enjoyed the space they’re afforded Friday afternoon but it’s one club’s absence that is creating a stir on campus.

“Being able to pray together and pray in private is not the same thing as being a recognized and accepted part of the campus community,” Adele Keim, Counsel with Becket Fund told FOX40 over the phone.

The organization Becket Fund is representing Chi Alpha, the umbrella group for Stanislaus Christian Fellowship. For 40 years the club has had a presence on campus but college administrators say they found a stipulation in their constitution in September of 2014 that forced them to de-recognize the group as an official CSU club.

“Benefits that student clubs and organizations have as being fully recognized are the very things that student fees and taxpayer dollars provide,” Tim Lynch, the Associate Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs with CSU Stanislaus said.

The college cites California law, Executive Order 1068 and the CSU system’s all comers policy which became effective in December 2011. According to administrators, the group’s requirement that any person seeking a leadership position be Christian is in fact discrimination.

“Asking your leaders to believe in what your group teaches isn't discrimination. It's just integrity,” Keim argued.

Groups recognized by the college are given certain amenities the faith-based organization wants back, such as reserving space for events.

“Stanislaus Christian Fellowship has absolutely not been banned from campus,” Lynch explained.

Turlock City Councilman Matthew Jacob has sided with the faith-based group.

“Being an officially recognized campus club affords you a great a deal of benefits,” Matthew Jacob, a Councilman with the City of Turlock explained to us.

Both sides will continue to negotiate.

“They have done everything that administrators have asked them to do but they've done it under protest,” Keim explained.

“We'd nothing better than have them in compliance and be back as a fully instated club on campus,” Lynch said.

The two groups have been negotiating for the past six months. CSU Stanislaus said there are two other faith-based groups on campus that are in compliance.