Inside Out 248: Christians On Campus

06.06.12 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Does a Christian campus ministry have the right to ask student leaders to agree to a statement of faith?

This is why I ask: as of the end of April 2012, a Christian fellowship on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo has been stripped of its status as a recognized campus association. Bear with me; this matters. At issue for the university is whether any club has the right to require that its leaders agree to a statement of Christian faith. After suspending InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in December of 2011, the SUNY Buffalo Student Association delivered its decision at the close of the academic year: the IVCF chapter does not, it determined, have the right to ask members of its leadership to agree to a statement of faith. 

For InterVarsity and other Christian ministries on college and university campuses, the campus is the mission field. Withholding official recognition status will not stop the fellowships from meeting. It will, however, bar them from many uses of campus facilities and the traditional avenues they have used to tell students that they exist and where to find them. 

In the past two years—since a Supreme Court decision in June of 2010--InterVarsity’s presence on campus has been challenged on 41 other campuses. In at least 39 of those cases, when the dust has settled, IVCF has remained on campus in good standing with the student government association. 

Unless something changes, SUNY Buffalo will not be one of those campuses. What does it mean to be stripped of official campus recognition? Why the push-back against ministries that have been on campuses for decades? What may be ahead for IVCF and other campus fellowships and ministries? And how can we pray for campus ministries and the universities where they are located—or want to be located?

Greg Jao joins us for this Inside Out conversation.  Greg Jao is a national field director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. He is the author of the LifeGuide Bible study The Kingdom of God and a contributor to Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents, a book on Asian American discipleship.

To learn more about the campus ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, click here: http://www.intervarsity.org/

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