Duke University Rebuffs Young Life Group

Sep 20, 2019

The student government of Duke University has denied religious group Young Life official status as a campus student group because the evangelical organization bars homosexuals from serving as leaders.

The Colorado-based Christian organization, which has chapters in schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 90 countries, has a clause in its sexuality policy that prohibits “persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle” from serving as staff members or as volunteers in the organization.

Duke Student Government Senate members noted that Young Life’s policy violated the school’s mandate that all student organizations include a non-discrimination statement in its constitution and proposed that Young Life alter its policy to comply. Young Life refused, citing its national chapter policy prohibiting the change. Thus, the Duke Student Government Senate refused to officially recognize the group. Without official recognition, Young Life is forced to meet at off-campus sites.

Interestingly, Young Life doesn’t say that those practicing sexual misconduct, including homosexuals, can’t be a part of the group, just that those individuals can’t lead the group. And that makes sense, says Wendy Griffith of CBN News, who likens Young Life’s leadership restriction to any political group that wants its leadership to hold to the same viewpoint as the group.

However, Religion News writer Yonat Shimron opined that Young Life would be hard-pressed to prevail in a religious liberty lawsuit against the university. “Duke may be in a different category as a private institution,” said Shimron. “Private universities don’t have the same obligations under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause that a government entity does.”

News Sources

DSG rejects Christian organization Young Life as chartered student group
Duke Chronicle

Duke University Rejects Youg life Group Over Christian Beliefs
CBN News

Duke University’s student government rejects Young Life over LGBTQ policies
Religion News

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