A lawsuit that charged officials at the University of Colorado branch in Colorado Springs illegally discriminated against the members of a Christian club has been settled with a formal change to the school’s policies and a payment of more than $20,000 to the students.
Officials with the Alliance Defending Freedom revealed on Tuesday that UCCS settled a lawsuit that was triggered when they refused to grant registered status ot a student group.
“As part of the settlement, the university agreed to grant Ratio Christi registered status, pay over $20,500 in damages and attorneys’ fees, and update its policies to ensure that a student club may require its leadership to promote the purposes of the club and hold beliefs consistent with the group’s mission,” the ADF reported.
“We commend the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs for quickly implementing this common sense policy reform,” said ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham. “It would be absurd for the university to require the vegan student group to appoint a meat-lover as its president.
“Thankfully, the university has acknowledged its error and announced a policy that respects students’ rights to free association, no longer forcing Christian students to let atheists or other non-Christians to lead their Bible studies in order to become a registered club.”
Ratio Christi is a Christian apologetics organization and seeks to defend the Christian faith and explain how the Bible applies to life.
It always has had the policy that all students can attend and join. But it “requires that those who lead the Christian organization share its religious beliefs.”
Because of that, the school had refused to allow it to participate on campus like any other student group.
“Like any other student group at a public university, religious student organizations should be free to choose their leaders without the government meddling,” said Tyson Langhofer, the chief of the ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom.
“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, university presidents, and voters, and we’re grateful the University of Colorado, has chosen to correct course, encourage diversity of thought, and protect students’ constitutional freedoms.”
The case developed late last year when the school made known its demand that the Christian group would have to be accepting of an atheist or other non-Christian should they want to lead.
The lawsuit challenged the school’s assumption that it can deny registered status to groups if they select leaders that share the group’s religious perspectives.
It also pointed out other discriminatory actions by the school against the Christian group, including that “non-religious groups are allowed to select members who support their purposes. And the university allows fraternities that admit only men and sororities that admit only women to continue as registered student organizations, in contradiction to the university’s policy against ‘discriminating based on sex.'”
The school policy now concedes, “All student clubs are permitted to require their leadership to promote the purposes of the club, to ascribe to sincerely held beliefs of the club, and/or to act in accordance with club standards.”