University to let Christian student group elect only Christian leaders: settlement

Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

A conservative law firm has declared victory after a Texas university agreed that a Christian student organization could require leaders to hold specific religious beliefs.

The Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement on Tuesday announcing it was voluntarily dismissing a lawsuit against the University of Houston-Clear Lake that the organization had filed on behalf of Ratio Christi.

According to ADF, the university agreed as part of a settlement to enact a policy confirming that registered student organizations could limit their leaders to those who shared their beliefs.

ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in the statement that he commended the university for “taking swift action to ensure Ratio Christi is given equal opportunity among its peer groups.”

“The University is supposed to be a free market of ideas. To meet that ideal, public universities must vigilantly protect the constitutional rights of students to freely speak and gather according to their religious beliefs,” Dalton said.

The Christian Post reached out to the University of Houston-Clear Lake for this story, with a spokesperson emailing a statement to CP on Thursday regarding the situation with Ratio Christi.

According to the statement, the approval of Ratio Christi was “consistent with the policies that are in place and were in place prior to the filing of this lawsuit.”

“A clarification was added to the university’s Student Organization Handbook to ensure there was no confusion regarding selection of officers for student organizations,” stated the university.

“Regardless of the clarification, the University of Houston-Clear Lake has always allowed officers of student organizations to align with the tenets of the organization they represent.”

Last October, ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ratio Christi against the university, arguing that the school had wrongfully refused to grant the group official student organization status.

The university gave the group official recognition soon after the lawsuit was filed, claiming in a statement that the litigation had nothing to do with their decision on Ratio Christi’s status.

“The University of Houston-Clear Lake has approved Ratio Christi as a registered student organization,” said University spokesperson Shawn Lindsey in a statement given to The Washington Times last year.

“This is not the reversal of a prior decision. The application was never denied and was still in process when the lawsuit was filed.”  

In 2019, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs reached a settlement with its Ratio Christi chapter after initially stopping the group from becoming an official student club.

The University of Colorado not only granted Ratio Christi registered status, but it also paid $20,574 in damages and revised its handbook to include a provision explaining that all student clubs can require leaders to adhere to a specific set of beliefs.

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