When Religious Beliefs Collide with Secular Beliefs

From "Judge Orders UNC To Recognize Christian Fraternity":

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must recognize a Christian fraternity that has waged a legal fight challenging the school's nondiscrimination policy.

The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. will remain in place until the case is resolved, possibly by trial.

Alpha Iota Omega was stripped of its status as an official campus group because the fraternity won't accept nonbelievers or gay students. The university revoked the recognition after fraternity members refused to sign the school's nondiscrimination policy.

The three-member fraternity sued last year, saying UNC-CH had violated their constitutional rights to free speech, free assembly and free exercise of religion.

Recognition gives the fraternity access to student funds and university facilities.

The preliminary injunction put the Christian fraternity "on the same footing as nonreligious organizations which select their members on the basis of commitment ... ," Bullock wrote in an order issued Wednesday.

The merits of the case probably favor the fraternity, but the order is consistent with the university attorneys "current unofficial interpretation of their nondiscrimination policy," Bullock wrote.

This is a difficult question. There are occasions when what some Christians believe the Bible teaches (in this case, the failure to accept homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality) collides with what the secular society sees as good. Certainly, there is no question in my view that we generally want to support tolerance (in the traditional sense) in society. This means that we don't want to unfairly discriminate against others. But what happens when secular society has a policy that infringes on the Biblical teaching?

Consider this: Suppose that society were to (once again) decide that the drinking of alcohol should be forbidden. Perhaps they don't pass a Constitutional Amendment, but rather certain cities and counties refuse to acknowledge groups that drink alcohol in any form as part of the welcome membership in society. This is done to support our poor fellow citizens who struggle with alcohol so that they will not have it tempting them. For many churches, the drinking of wine is an absolutely necessary part of communion. It may not seem to be a big deal to those outside the denomination, but to those within the denomination failing to have actual wine to drink prevents them from fulfilling what they see as a Biblical mandate. Perhaps the church could say "in order that the person struggling with alcohol isn't tempted to partake, we will not allow them to join our church." Is that right or wrong? What do you think?


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