Ratio Christi, the evangelical Christian organization which sued the University of Houston-Clear Lake on Monday claimed a win five days later when the school said it would grant the group “recognized student organization” status.
Approval means Ratio Christi, whose Latin name means “The Reason of Christ,” can reserve meeting space on campus, officially invite outside speakers to its meetings, and receive a share of student activity funds paid by the school’s 9,144 students.
Initially, Ratio Christi alleged the Clear Lake campus had rejected its application for recognition because the group insists that its leaders affirm the group’s “values and mission,” the latter aiming to strengthen the evangelical Christian faith of students.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the public-interest law firm representing Ratio Christi, “the university rejected the application and revoked its invitation to the student organization fair because Ratio Christi‘s constitution requires its leaders to be Christians — not members of another faith or of no faith.”
But Shawn Lindsey, a University of Houston System associate vice chancellor and associate vice president for media relations, disputed the ADF claim of a turnaround.
“The University of Houston-Clear Lake has approved Ratio Christi as a registered student organization,” Ms. Lindsey told The Washington Times in an email message. She added, “This is not the reversal of a prior decision. The application was never denied and was still in process when the lawsuit was filed.”
Media representatives at the ADF headquarters did not respond to a request for clarification.
Earlier Friday, ADF attorney Caleb Dalton welcomed the decision.
In a statement, Mr. Dalton said the Clear Lake campus now “must do the next right thing and rescind the unconstitutional policies that are still in place that were used to exclude Ratio Christi because it requires its leaders to agree with its values and mission. … The university allows other organizations to have similar, commonsense leadership requirements.”
Mr. Dalton, who earlier alleged that Clear Lake campus officials acted against Ratio Christi solely because of the group’s beliefs, added, “University officials must act consistently with the law to ensure that all students are treated fairly and without discrimination based on their faith.”
ADF’s lawsuit pointed out that the Clear Lake administration permits sports clubs to restrict membership on the basis of gender. It allows sororities and fraternities to enforce specific membership requirements, they said.
The Houston school also allows the campus’ military veteran students association, its international students’ association, and the Vietnamese students’ association to restrict membership and leadership positions but still hold “recognized” status, the ADF said.
Ratio Christi won a similar case in 2019 at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus. That school settled a federal lawsuit over its denial of official recognition, paying more than $20,500 in damages and legal fees.
The Colorado Springs campus also changed its policies to allow student clubs to require leaders to hold beliefs consistent with a group’s mission.