wishes to join. You don't believe in global warming, but want to join the environmental club?
You are welcome. You are opposed to the equal rights amendment, but want to join the
feminist law society on campus? Y'all come. No officially sanctioned club may discriminate
against any other student. You can see what's coming, can't you? A group of "Christian"
students want to be an official Hastings Club. Being a recognized campus group would entitle
them to a small subsidy, preferential treatment when trying to reserve an on-campus meeting
space, access to bulletin boards, etc. One problem, this group wants to exclude from
membership anyone who is gay, supports gay rights, or doesn't condemn premarital sex.
The school said "thanks, but no thanks" and denied the "Christians" official recognition.
Hastings is a state supported school. The California Constitution bans any form of
discrimination based on sexual orientation. It also requires separation of church and state
as does the U.S. Constitution. If Hastings were to accept this "Christian" group, taxpayers
would be endorsing prejudice and discrimination. Tax money would go to support a religious
group. The "Christians" claim Hastings policy has hurt them, even though they admit their
membership doubled after their application for Hastings Club status was turned down.
The "Christians" want it both ways. They want the advantages of being an on-campus
group; but they don't want to abide by the rules the school established for officially recognized
clubs. They cry foul and they claim Hastings is discriminating against them; but the reality
is they wish to discriminate, but don't want to pay the price. They can still be a group. They
can still hold meetings. They can pass out flyers and hold socials and prayer meetings. They
can associate with each other anytime they wish. No one, including Hastings, is denying them
their rights. They can exclude anyone they wish from their gatherings. What they cannot do
is discriminate and also expect official recognition. Taxpayers cannot be asked to subsidize
policies which are unconstitutional.
I have no idea how the oral arguments will play out. I can guess the positions of the
regressive Catholic block on the court. I truly don't see the conflict here. No one is making
the "Christians" form a club or denying them that ability. If they want one, they have to be
open, tolerant, even loving towards those who might want to join but disagree with them.
Years ago, the Olympic Club in San Francisco got into trouble because it didn't admit
women. Part of the club's golf course sat on city property and the city wanted the policy
changed. They were also sued because members could deduct their membership fees as
business expenses even though women were excluded from all the "business" being discussed.
Members argued they had the right to associate with whomever they wished and had the
right to exclude women. Ultimately, they lost. They did have the right to have a club and
they did have the right to exclude women; but they couldn't deduct their fees nor could their
golf course continue to occupy city land. In the end, they admitted women and no longer
treat their fees as business expenses. The club thrives and even had its first adult women's
basketball league a few years ago.
There is nothing wrong with a policy of non-discrimination. The Hasting's policy is
neutral. No club may discriminate against any other student. All comers have to be welcome.
It is not aimed at any one religion or philosophy. That this case stems from a "Christian"
group who wants to engage in prejudice and bigotry is an irony which will be lost on no one.
How did a philosophy of total love and care turn into one of prejudice and
discrimination? Why is it every other group at Hastings can open their membership to all
comers except the "Christians"? What perverted permutations occurred in the last 2000
years, to turn a philosophy of tolerance and forgiveness, committed to the least of your
brothers and sisters, into a political force for hatred and exclusion? "Christians" can only
meet with like-minded folks? How well would that approach have worked in the early
Church? Can you imagine Paul refusing to meet with anyone who didn't share his vision
and approach? What would have happened to the spread of early Christianity if membership
were limited to only those who bought into it hook, line, and sinker? Peter tried it. He
tried to force Gentile Christians to be circumcised and obey Jewish dietary laws and he was
overridden at the Council of Jerusalem. Christianity was open to all, not just those who
followed Jewish custom.
I hope the Supreme Court rules in Hasting's favor. To side with the "Christians" would
force California taxpayers to subsidize discrimination and would have the state ignoring
its own laws to accommodate a religious group. I wish I were confident the court will not
reward this group. Church and state need to be kept separate because religious or sectarian
disputes can tear a nation to shreds. Anyone been to Iraq or Afghanistan lately? What do you
think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Sometimes more than one blog is posted at a time; so be sure to check the previous
blogs to make sure that you have not missed any of the "Lion of the Left" postings.