Campus Reform | Christian student org under fire for requiring leaders to adhere to its beliefs

Christian student org under fire for requiring leaders to adhere to its beliefs

A Christian organization at the University of Virginia asked one of its leaders to step down from his leadership position because he did not adhere to the group's deeply held beliefs in support of traditional marriage.

In response, the UVA student government passed a resolution condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation, specifically invoking the Christian fellowship that the student called out.

The University of Virginia student government condemned a Christian student organization after it allegedly forced a student to resign from a leadership position because he was in a same-sex relationship.

According to a resolution passed by the UVA student council, the leaders of Chi Alpha allegedly pressured Alex Briegel to resign from his leadership position because "his perspectives on homosexuality and his relationship are incompatible with their religious beliefs."

The resolution stated that UVA does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. 

"The University of Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, pregnancy (including childbirth and related conditions), race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information."

However, a significant caveat to the resolution acknowledged that organizations like Chi Alpha can "limit membership" based on religious or political grounds. 

"Pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a student organization identifying as political or religious in nature may limit membership based on a member's commitment to the mission of the political or religious organization, respectively," stated the resolution. 

According to The Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student newspaper, Briegel left Chi Alpha completely because he felt they would never see him “as an equal brother of Christ” because of his sexual orientation.

Chi Alpha told the Cavalier that “Alex chose to step down from a leadership role in Chi Alpha over [a] disagreement with our religious beliefs. But he is and always has been welcome as a member in our community, as is any U.Va. student.” 

Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and Director of the Center for Academic Freedom at Alliance Defending Freedom, told Campus Reform that the UVA student government should respect religious freedom.

“UVA’s student government should respect the freedom of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship to organize around the beliefs that makes it unique. Any attempt to discriminate against students for their religious beliefs violates the First Amendment and threatens freedom for everyone,” he said.

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Briegel wrote an open letter addressed to Chi Alpha, in which he denounced the group's "unwillingness to respect a viewpoint counter [to] their own." 

"Despite the decree of Jesus to love your neighbor, many Christians are hostile to members of the LGBTQ+ community and turn them away from Jesus through an unwillingness to respect a viewpoint counter [to] their own," Briegel said. 

Briegel told Campus Reform that he is “appreciative” of the Student Council’s resolution in support of not only him but also “all LGBTQ+ students who face unfair and unChristian-like treatment from religious organizations such as Chi Alpha and Young Life.” 

“The true issue that organizations like Chi Alpha have is not their theology of homosexuality, but the fact that basic tenets of Christianity are ignored,” Briegel said. 

Campus Reform reached out to Chi Alpha via email for further comment; however, a response was not received in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ashleyecarnahan