SAN BERNARDINO—Ryan Sorba says officials at Cal State San Bernardino are discriminating against Christians by withholding resources from his student group, which prohibits non-Christians and homosexuals from becoming members.
School officials say Sorba is the one being intolerant and the school is simply following California law.
“This is about whether or not the First Amendment is allowed to exist at Cal State San Bernardino and whether or not Christians are allowed to exist,” said Sorba, who also is president of the College Republicans.
The case has caught the attention of a few national organizations, which Monday began campaigns to have Sorba’s club approved by the university.
“This is political correctness gone amok. There is no way we are going to let this thing pass,” said the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition in Washington, D.C.
Sheldon’s organization plans to lobby the California Legislature. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education plans to pressure the university.
“Do the Democrats have to include people into their party who despise the platform of the Democrats? Of course they don’t,” said Greg Lukianoff, the foundation’s director of legal and public advocacy. “Freedom of association means nothing if you are not allowed to exclude people who don’t share your beliefs.”
The issue arose this semester when Sorba, a senior majoring in psychology, attempted to found the Christian Student Association. He had four potential leaders, a faculty adviser and about 20 students interested in being charter members.
Sorba filed the club’s constitution in September. The group’s listed purposes were, among others, to “provide a support group for students who desire to live the Christian life” and “bring glory to God on biblical principles.”
“All persons may attend meetings,” the document stated, but members must “strive to live in accordance with” the Bible.
Membership could be revoked for “failure to perform duties, misuse of funds, historical Christian heresy, engaging in sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage, etc.”
Cal State San Bernardino rejected the club’s charter application because it would admit people based on religious affiliation and sexual orientation, said Christine Hansen, director of student leadership and development in the office of Student Affairs.
“We are not permitted to charter them under Title V,” Hansen said, referring to the section of the California Code of Regulations that deals with education.
She said the university will continue to keep resources from the club unless the group agrees to include non-Christians and people engaged in extramarital sex.
Recognized student groups are eligible for money from student fees, which can be used to make T-shirts and host events; they can invite speakers to campus, post fliers and use university rooms for meetings.
Unofficial groups, including the Christian Student Association, have no such privileges.
Sorba has been at the center of campus controversy before.
Last year, members of the school’s College Republicans asked him to abdicate the presidency after he used the club’s name on anti-gay signs and to promote the boycott of a class about gender perspectives.
He refused to resign, and this year created a “watch list” of liberal professors and coordinated an affirmative action bake sale, at which minorities paid less for snacks.Download file "5"