Univ. of Ga. to recognize Christian fraternity

Sunday, December 10, 2006

ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia officials said Dec. 7 that a Christian fraternity that filed a federal lawsuit claiming it was unable to register as a student group will be recognized by the school after all.

Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and Alliance Defense Fund filed the suit Dec. 6 on behalf of Beta Upsilon Chi, which has 16 other chapters around the country but was denied continued recognition by UGA in November because it requires all its members to be Christians.

The suit said university rules, reflecting a policy approved by the Board of Regents, require student organizations to offer “membership and all privileges” to all students without regard to factors such as race, ethnicity, disability or religion.

University spokesman Tom Jackson said UGA would remove the religion clause from the policy to settle the situation and is discussing “an exception to religious discrimination (that) could be put into place much like an exception to gender discrimination is in place for same-sex social fraternities and sororities.”

According to the lawsuit, the university was not consistently applying the nondiscrimination requirement. It said the Baha’i Association requires its officers to be members of the Baha’i faith, and a Christian organization called Crossway Fellowship Christian Ministry is registered.

Attorney Timothy J. Tracey of the Christian Legal Aid Society said he was encouraged by the university’s announcement but said the university needed to institute a long-term solution.

“If they amend their policy, we hope that will solve the problem,” Tracey said.