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ADF and CLS achieve favorable settlement in lawsuit against school officials

TOLEDO, Ohio—Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and Christian Legal Society secured a student civil rights victory today in a settlement reached with the University of Toledo on behalf of the CLS chapter at the school.

“It’s refreshing for a university to recognize that religious student groups, like all other student organizations, should be able to select leaders and members who share their group’s basic beliefs and purposes,” said Litigation Counsel Timothy J. Tracey with CLS’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom.

University of Toledo officials agreed to accept the CLS chapter’s constitution and to recognize the group as an official registered student organization. The university also agreed to allow all student organizations to include references and citations to religious texts, such as the Bible, in their constitutions and bylaws. The university further acknowledged that religious student organizations are not required to abide by non-discrimination policies that would force the groups to accept leaders and members who do not agree with their beliefs.

The CLS chapter filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in March after school officials refused to recognize the group because it would not remove references to the Bible from its constitution or commit to abide by the religion, creed, and sexual orientation portions of the university’s non-discrimination policy.

The policy required all student organizations to include wording in their constitutions promising not to deny membership to any individual on the basis of certain protected statuses, including religion, creed, or sexual orientation. The CLS chapter refused to include the wording in its constitution because it desired to select leaders and members who affirmed the group’s Christian beliefs.

“The university has assured us that the CLS chapter will be allowed to abide by its Christian principles. ADF and CLS are happy to have been a part of bringing about this favorable resolution, which benefits everyone involved,” Tracey said.

ADF-allied attorney Kurt Anderson of the Elyria law firm Fauver, Keyse-Walker & Donovan also represented the CLS chapter in the suit. Christian Legal Society v. Johnson was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division.

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. 

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