Back on Campus
Fourteen months after being forbidden to meet at California State University Stanislaus, the Chi Alpha Campus Ministries group has been allowed back on the campus in Turlock.
The reinstatement comes after months of negotiations between Cal State administrators and the religious liberties organization The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Cal State Chancellor's Office has agreed to permit students to select leaders whose lives and beliefs reflect the message of Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions student ministry group active on secular university and college campuses across the nation. But E. Scott Martin, national Chi Alpha director, notes that the compromise doesn't require Cal State leaders to share the faith requirements explicit in Chi Alpha charter.
"Unfortunately, CSU continues to ban religious leadership requirements and to treat religious student groups with less respect than fraternities and sororities," Martin said in part of an official statement. "But because CSU has agreed that Chi Alpha's students may exercise their own judgment to choose leaders that share their beliefs, we are now able to have access to campus with integrity."
Although all students, from other faiths or no faith, are welcomed to attend Chi Alpha meetings, the organization has required student leaders of worship services and Bible studies to affirm biblical standards. That's what led the Cal State to yank the Chi Alpha chapter's recognized status and expel it last fall after four decades on campus.
Martin says Chi Alpha will continue to work toward removing the unfair burdens on the ministry groups at Cal State, but in the meantime he is grateful students in the group can resume sharing the gospel in meetings on campuses in the CSU system.
In September 2014, the four campuses of Cal State adopted "nondiscrimination" policies banning students in religious clubs from requiring leaders to share in the faith. But now Chi Alpha chapters also have resumed at the other three campuses: Cal State Sacramento, San Diego State, and Cal State Fresno.
"For religious students, groups like Chi Alpha are a place of refuge," says Adèle Auxier Keim, legal counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. "It's just common sense -- and basic liberty -- for religious groups to be led by students who share their faith."
Jeremy Anderson, West Coast area director of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, USA, is grateful that students have persevered in faith to get the group back on campus.
"Chi Alpha is officially back on our CSU campuses after over a year of waiting, praying, blessing, pressing, forgiving, and trusting!" says Anderson, who directed the Stanislaus group in Turlock at the time of its exile.