TURLOCK (CBS13) — A fraternity is at the center of a freedom of religion debate after the California State University system says it would no longer recognize the chapter.
The CSU Stanislaus Chi Alpha chapter is a Christian-based organization that’s been part of the Turlock community for 40 years, and is known for doing good work on campus and in the community.
But the chapter, known as the Stanislaus Christian Fellowship is no longer recognized by the university.
CSUS Associate Vice President Tim Lynch says the group’s constitution does not follow a CSU system wide executive order by prohibiting non-Christians from seeking a leadership role within the organization.
“What they cannot be is faith-based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader,” he said. “Every club is allowed to establish its own standards for how leaders are selected—as long as its non discriminatory—and then they are voted on by the members. Fraternities and sororities must comply with all the requirements there of but there is a gender exemption.”
Turlock City Councilman Matthew Jacob feels the chapter is being unfairly targeted.
“It’s nothing less than religious discrimination,” he said.
He recently sent a letter to the university chancellor saying the executive order isn’t enforced fairly.
“It goes against the very purpose of the organization to begin with,” he said, “to have somebody that doesn’t even uphold that faith system to be teaching and mentoring other students in that capacity.”
Meanwhile, Lynch says two other faith-based groups on campus have complied with the executive order with no issues.
But Jacob worries this could have more widespread implications.
“Other clubs have given in so you might as well. I think that when you start making statements like that, its just a slippery slope,” he said.
The Chi Alpha chapter at San Diego State also lost its recognition from the school for the same reason.
If the two can’t come to an agreement, Chi Alpha may seek litigation.