Here is my quick take on CLS v. Martinez…
1. Colleges and universities that receive federal funding should not be able to discriminate against groups because they are religious in nature. There needs to be equal protection and equal treatment.
2. In this case, CLS is not being denied the ability to gather, associate, speak, etc. They are being denied funding from the school because of their ban on gays, etc.
3. Christian groups should have an expectation that they can gather and meet on campuses; they should not expect to receive funding from the school to further their mission.
On a prima facia level — from someone with no legal training — I think that CLS is incorrect on this issue. If they were being banned from campus, were not being allowed to assemble on campus, etc, then I think they have a winning case. If the issue is just funding, then I think they don’t have a case.
This issue can get very complicated on college campuses. For example, on some campuses the issue is “official recognition” which triggers opportunity for funding, access to meeting space, ability to advertise on campus, etc. In that case, I think the Christian group would have a stronger case since lack of official recognition is tantamount to not being allowed to meet and this would violate the equal access/equal protection principals.
My final thought is this… should Christian student ministries really expect funding from schools? Is this even a good idea? My gut says no. I have worked in campus ministry a long time — for both evangelical parachurch groups (like CLS) and via churches (both evangelical and mainline). My opinion is that these ministries should look for ways to serve the campus community, be bold in their outreach and presence, and neither take nor expect official funding.
So that is my quick take… what is yours?