Elite Florida college no longer recognizes Christian student organization

Knowles Memorial Chapel
Knowles Memorial Chapel – Photo Credit Council of Independent Colleges

Are the actions of a Florida college the latest signs of a growing intolerance to Christianity in America, or is the school acting within reason to admonish a Christian group for requiring its leaders to be followers of Christ?

The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL is no longer being provided meeting space on campus because, after nearly 40 years, the school has stopped recognizing them as an official campus organization.

The Rollins College board of trustees cited the Christian group for being in violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy because it requires leaders to be Christians, according to WOFL FOX 35 Orlando.

The group asked the college for an exemption to the policy as a religious organization, FOX 35 reports, but it was denied.

“When you create a non-discrimination policy that effectively excludes students from campus — marginalizes the Christian students — the policy is failing to accomplish what Rollins itself wants to do,” Intervarsity Christian Fellowship National Field Director Greg Jao told FOX 35.  “We hope that will become clear to the administration and they’ll reconsider.”

In a statement released by the board last week, the college’s board of trustees said, “Such exceptions would be inconsistent with the process of learning and growth that the college seeks to foster.”

The group had been meeting on campus at the interdenominational Knowles Memorial Chapel.

In a report by Fox Radio’s Todd Starnes, Jao adds that the college’s Catholic student group is also worried about facing de-recognition, “They want to know how it will affect Catholic students. I think they see it’s in the cards.”

Starnes also noted that four students affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship were holding an informal Bible study in the common area of a dorm suite and a resident hall assistant told them they were no longer allowed inside the dorm.

The College Fix further reports:

Rollins isn’t the first institution to make the seemingly absurd suggestion that Christian groups should accept non-Christian leaders. The College Fix first reported on this trend in fall of 2011, when Vanderbilt University made national headlines by becoming one of the first university’s to insist that Christian groups open themselves up to non-Christian leaders.

As Fix Contributor Kyle Blaine reported, Carol M. Swain, professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt, publicly criticized the institution. “This hastily conceived policy has the potential to destroy every religious organization on campus by secularizing religion and allowing intolerant conflict,” Swain wrote. “Carried to its logical extension, it means that no organization can maintain integrity of beliefs.”

The irony is that, long ago, both Rollins and Vanderbilt were founded as Christian institutions.

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