The Ohio State University: Refusal to Allow Religious Clubs to Decide Membership Based on Religious Belief


The Ohio State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

A coalition of religious groups, including the Muslim Student Association, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Christian Graduate Student Alliance, Campus Crusade for Christ, Mosaic, Reformed Christian Students, the Christian Medical Dental Association, Student Christian Fellowship, and International Friendships, used religious criteria for decisions regarding group leadership, group message, and, sometimes, group membership at the Ohio State University. Ohio State's official recognition policy had stated that in order for groups to receive full recognition from the university, they could not "discriminate" on the basis of religion. FIRE wrote to Ohio State President Karen A. Holbrook, pointing out that as a public institution, "Ohio State cannot constitutionally control a religious student organization's message or composition." In response to pressure from FIRE, and a pending lawsuit filed by the Christian Legal Society, Ohio State agreed to change the "nondiscrimination" policy.