TEMPE, Ariz. - Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society secured a settlement agreement today in their lawsuit against Arizona State University officials. The settlement will prevent the university from requiring the student organization to admit members and leaders who do not agree with the group's religious beliefs.
"We are very pleased that the students in the CLS chapter at ASU will be able to operate in accordance with their shared beliefs as other student organizations do," said Gregory S. Baylor, director of CLS's Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
The settlement agreement dictates that the university will publish and adopt a policy that states, in part, "Religious student organizations will not be denied registration solely because they limit membership or leadership positions to students who share the same religious beliefs."
The agreement also states that "the beliefs and practices of the Christian Legal Society at ASU that any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, outside of a traditional marriage is morally wrong do not violate sexual orientation provisions in the non-discrimination policies of ASU as they relate to the registration of student organizations."
"The university finally recognized that their sexual orientation non-discrimination policy does not trump the First Amendment rights of the CLS chapter," said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. "Unfortunately, other universities across the country continue in misguided attempts to exclude Christian groups from campus. We hope this settlement will encourage other universities to respect students' fundamental rights and avoid becoming a defendant."
The university had sought to compel the CLS chapter to abide by the school's non-discrimination policy in a way that would have forced the Christian student organization to allow the admission of members and officers that hold to views diametrically opposed to the group's beliefs and mission.
Though students who do not share CLS's religious beliefs are not able to join the chapter as official members or be elected as officers, they have never been barred from attending the group's meetings and events. The group informed the university prior to filing the lawsuit that they do not object to other portions of the non-discrimination policy.
ADF and CLS attorneys filed the case, Christian Legal Society Chapter at Arizona State University College of Law v. Crow, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on Nov. 17 of last year.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.