- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 6, 2021

DETROIT (AP) - The constitutional rights of a Christian student group were violated when a Detroit university declined to grant campus status because leaders were required to embrace certain religious beliefs, a judge said.

Wayne State University said InterVarsity Christian Fellowship violated nondiscrimination policies. The group is open to all students but it requires leaders to meet Christian standards.

Wayne State in 2018 declined InterVarsity’s designation as a registered student group, which typically carries financial benefits and places to gather and recruit members. The school subsequently changed course, but the lawsuit continued in federal court.

“No religious group can constitutionally be made an outsider, excluded from equal access to public or university life, simply because it insists on religious leaders who believe in its cause,” U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland said Monday.

Cleland noted that Wayne State had no problem with gender-specific club sports teams or fraternities and sororities. He noted that the Iraqi Student Organization requires leaders to be “dedicated Iraqi students.”

“The court’s ruling was not unexpected,” Wayne State spokesman Matt Lockwood said. “Unfortunately, despite the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship being granted everything it requested in a timely manner, it continued to pursue litigation, forcing the university to spend time and taxpayer dollars in an unnecessary lawsuit.”

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