Religion and the law: Yale may ban Christian frat

Getting a lot of religion vs. the law news lately, so I thought I’d do a little roundup and we’ll see if we can generate any discussion.

First up is Yale University, where a newly approved Christian fraternity may be denied official recognition and student group funding because it plans to restrict membership to men who believe in Jesus.

Just days after the leaders of Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX) announced the Yale chapter’s formation, the student newspaper reported that the group “will have to change its membership rules if it intends to comply with Yale’s anti-discrimination policies.”

Yale’s policy bans all groups affiliated with the university from discrimination based on “sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, or national or ethnic origin,” although groups like Yale Law Women exclude men.

Similarly, BYX – the largest Christian fraternity in the country – requires its brothers to be practicing Christians.

Read the story here.
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Next we have the U.S. military efforts to combat suicide among soldiers. The suicide rate exceeds one per day and the military is stepping up efforts to get the soldiers the help they need.

However, some feel that help is too reliant on faith. Last Thursday, there was an Army-wide “stand down” to focus on suicide prevention training. However, reports are coming in that chaplain-led sessions on ‘resilience’ showed a priority on religion, prayer, and “god’s plan.”

“These personal religious expressions may be appropriate in private, optional settings, but they have no place in mandatory settings and even violate the Army’s own guidance that its ‘spiritual fitness’ training be optional,” the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers said in a news release.

The organization is calling on the Army to denounce the “co-opting of suicide prevention and resiliency training for promotion of religion” and survey their resiliency trainers, especially chaplains, about what level of religion they feel is appropriate.

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Finally, word came late last week that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court against two western Pennsylvania school districts demanding that they remove Ten Commandment monuments from school property.

In the lawsuit against the Connellsville School District, they are also demanding that a neighboring church not be permitted to move the Ten Commandments to their property because a student may see it while they are on school property.

The FFRF group is countered by the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, a statewide group advocating for religious liberty. The association said the demand from the FFRF “proves they do not just want schools to be free from any mention of God, but they also want nearby churches to be silenced.”

“The Connellsville Church of God made a reasonable offer to move the five foot tall monument to their property, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation is so rabidly anti-liberty that they cannot even stand that a neighboring church have it on their property. Perhaps they should read the rest of the First Amendment where it mentions freedom of speech,” said Diane Gramley, president of the AFA.

Both the New Kensington and Connellsville Ten Commandments were donated by the Fraternal Order to Eagles back in 1957. In the New Kensington, case a complaint was filed with the FFRF this spring by a visiting student, and in Connellsville, one junior high atheist student says he felt excluded because of the placement of the Ten Commandments monument.

So what do we think: religious freedom under attack, or reasonable objections to the separation of church and state?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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One Response to Religion and the law: Yale may ban Christian frat

  1. Chauncey Freeman says:

    Isn’t Yale a beautiful, elite and effete setting for the exercise of anti-Christian bigotry against BYX Fraternity?

    Don’t you just love “anti-discrimination” policies that practice naked prejudice and viewpoint discrimination?

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”–The First Amendment of The Constitution of The United States of America

    What part of free assembly, free exercise of religion, free speech, free conscience, free press, equal protection under the law and freedom to peaceably protest doesn’t the anti-Christian bigoted thought and ethnic, secular liberal purity cleansing police and at Yale get?

    It appears Yale might like to see some citizens, taxpayers, neighbors, brothers, sisters, peers treated like second class citizens but justice and equality will be served and anti-Christian bigotry will not stand.

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