(Photo: David Wilson)
A Christian campus group not considered religious? That's what a university in North Carolina is saying.
Officials at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro have refused to give the "Make Up Your Own Mind" Club recognition as a religious student group, even though its mission statement is Christian in nature.
Without such a religious classification, MUYOM would be compelled to abide by campus rules that would force it to allow students who are not Christian to become leaders and members. In response to this, the club has taken legal action.
Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, is representing the student club and has filed suit on its behalf against UNC-Greensboro.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Tedesco explained that as with other cases, members of the club came to the ADF, which concluded that the situation "warranted legal action."
"The folks on the ground know of us," said Tedesco, "we evaluated it and decided that it warranted legal action."
The situation began when students submitted a student organization application to UNC-Greensboro for the creation of the MUYOM club. In the form, they requested that they be considered a religious group given their beliefs and positions.
UNC-Greensboro rejected their application to be considered a religious group, arguing that because the group did not have the official sponsorship of a congregation or denomination, they could not get the desired exemption for determining membership and leadership on the basis of belief.
Tedesco countered by explaining that many religious groups on the UNC-Greensboro campus, including the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, did not have the sponsorship of a specific church.
"It's pretty rare," said Tedesco, for a student group "to be affiliated with a church."
Helen Hebert, associate vice chancellor for University Relations, explained to CP that the UNC-Greensboro was still assessing the situation.
"It was late yesterday when we received the notification about this lawsuit," said Hebert, who provided CP with an official statement from the university.
"We are gathering information and assessing the allegations of the suit. If we discover that the matter in question was handled improperly, we will swiftly take corrective actions," reads the statement.
"The University of North Carolina at Greensboro supports the open and free expression of our students, faculty, staff, and guests through many methods, including a strong, vibrant, and diverse set of student organizations."