University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Denial of Freedom of Association for Christian Fraternity

Category: Free Speech, Religious Liberty
Schools: University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a Christian fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), was stripped of its recognition after UNC administrator Jonathan Curtis declared that the fraternity was required to add an unconstitutional “nondiscrimination” clause to its student group constitution. AIO objected to the “nondiscrimination” clause because it would have forbidden the group from considering religion when determining “membership and participation” in the group. FIRE wrote to the university on AIO’s behalf outlining the group’s rights to freedom of association and religious liberty but the university was unmoved. FIRE teamed up with the Alliance Defense Fund and filed suit, and eventually AIO was granted the right not to enact the nondiscrimination clause.

  • UNC-Chapel Hill Tries to Spin Away a Major Defeat

    May 25, 2006

    In July of 2004, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explaining for the second time in less than two years that constitutionally protected freedom of association is meaningless if a group cannot exclude people who do not share the beliefs of the group. This is both basic common sense and clearly established law. The College Democrats can exclude Republicans, the college environmental club can exclude students who hate environmentalism, and the college chess club can exclude members who hate the game and wish to see it abolished. In other words, […]

    » Read More

  • Campus Left to Christians, Conservatives: Shut Up!

    December 24, 2005

    Scratch many of the administrators in charge on American campuses these days and you often find a neo-Stalinist who has no hesitation about suppressing views that deviate from leftist orthodoxy. If you doubt me, try supporting Christianity or conservatism in a public way in the ivy covered groves of American academe. Take California State University at San Bernadino, for example, where administrators refuse to charter the Christian Students Association because the group thinks its members should be professing Christians. Imagine that! The group ‘would not be required to admit members who did not support the purpose of the organization (beliefs),’ […]

    » Read More

  • Judge: Christian frat can ban homosexuals

    March 5, 2005

    A federal court has ordered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reinstate a Christian fraternity which had been denied recognition because its officers refused to sign the university’s nondiscrimination policy requiring the group to allow homosexuals to join. The preliminary injunction, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Bullock Junior, will permit Alpha Iota Omega access to student funds and university facilities, like other fraternities on campus. The order will remain in force until the issue of compliance with the university’s policy against discrimination is settled, most likely in court.     “This is the first […]

    » Read More

  • Conformity on campus

    December 18, 2004

    This fall four new studies of professors’ political attitudes showed a large tilt to the left: • Daniel Klein, an economics professor and researcher at Santa Clara University and Stockholm University, surveyed more than 1,000 professors around the United States and found Democrats outnumbering Republicans at least 7-1 in the humanities and social sciences, with departments such as anthropology and sociology coming in at about 30-1. • In a separate study of voter registration records, Mr. Klein found professors at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley tilted Democratic 9-1. Among younger professors at those two universities the imbalance was even […]

    » Read More

  • Christian Fraternity Sues U. of North Carolina Over Chapel Hill’s Refusal to Recognize It

    September 10, 2004

    A Christian fraternity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sued the university in late August for refusing to recognize the group because it does not allow non-Christians to join. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Greensboro, N.C., argues that the university’s refusal to recognize the fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, violates the group’s First Amendment rights to the free expression of religion and free association of its members. The university contends that membership in officially recognized student organizations “must be open to all students on a nondiscriminatory basis.” The fraternity is being aided by the Foundation […]

    » Read More

  • Trumpeters of tolerance intolerant

    September 1, 2004

    When I was in graduate school, political correctness was beginning to rear its head. And one of my biggest frustrations was that although my university — like others — presented itself as a diverse “marketplace of ideas,” only one sort of idea was welcome. Any dissent from the “everything should be tolerated” worldview was suppressed as narrow-minded. Many university students and staff clearly didn’t realize the irony of preaching tolerance while being intolerant of those who disagree.It’s only gotten worse. Today’s political correctness movement is so aggressive that it threatens our constitutional rights instead of protecting them. Several Georgia State […]

    » Read More

  • Christian fraternity sues UNC

    August 27, 2004

      Like most educational institutions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill requires its organizations to strictly observe a nondiscrimination policy when recruiting members. Although this policy may not seem unusual, at UNC it has led a Christian fraternity to sue the University. Alpha Iota Omega, a small Christian fraternity at UNC, declined to sign the University’s Nondiscrimination and Sexual Orientation Policy last September. The members argued that the policy went against the fraternity’s requirement that all members be Christian, and the University subsequently denied AIO official recognition for the 2003-2004 school year. Refusing to be denied access for […]

    » Read More

  • The College Code

    August 27, 2004

    Last fall, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officially “derecognized” the Alpha Iota Omega Christian fraternity. Earlier this week, AIO filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to get its recognition restored. If derecognition sounds like a dire fate, it is, in a way. The university froze the fraternity’s university account, denied it meeting space and cut off its access to student-fees funding (which AIO didn’t use in any case). Why did the university take such a step? Because the Christian fraternity wanted its seven members to be Christian men. Such exclusion is apostasy in the modern university, […]

    » Read More

  • Group files suit against University

    August 26, 2004

      All eyes were on members of the Alpha Iota Omega fraternity Wednesday afternoon as they stood in the middle of the Pit – amidst a mass of reporters and swarms of students – and formally declared the federal lawsuit they have filed against the University.   The all-male Christian fraternity is fighting to reinstate its official University recognition, which was revoked last year after members refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy required of all campus organizations.   Trevor Hamm, Carlon Myrick and Jonathan Park – the three members of the all-male Christian fraternity – came out of the shadows […]

    » Read More

  • Christian frat to sue UNC over free speech

    August 25, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL — A Christian fraternity that had its official recognition revoked is planning to sue UNC, alleging that the university has violated the constitutional rights of the group’s members.Late last year, the university declined to renew Alpha Iota Omega’s student organization status because the group’s leaders wouldn’t sign a university policy requiring its membership to be open to all students. The fraternity’s leaders didn’t see the point of being open to non-Christians since Christianity is the fraternity’s core principle.In losing official recognition, the group is no longer eligible for student activity fee revenue, and cannot reserve meeting space as […]

    » Read More

  • Christian fraternity sues UNC over official recognition

    August 25, 2004

    A Christian fraternity that refused to adopt the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s nondiscrimination policy sued Wednesday because it was denied official campus recognition.Alpha Iota Omega objects to a school requirement that its membership be open to everyone regardless of religion or sexual orientation.Officers and founders of the non-denominational fraternity say every member is required to participate in the organization’s primary mission of Christian evangelism from a personal perspective. They say it would be a lie to say they would accept people who cannot do that. “Non-Christians would not be able to meet that very basic criteria of […]

    » Read More

  • Anti-Christian charges probed

    August 19, 2004

    The Education Department’s civil rights office has opened a second discrimination investigation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is accused by a congressman of “abusive policies” against Christian students.Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, requested the government inquiry on Monday after the university closed a Christian fraternity that refused to accept non-Christian members. UNC Chancellor James Moeser said the decision to revoke the charter of the five-year-old Christian fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), was made on grounds that the group is violating the school’s nondiscrimination policy by not allowing students to join regardless of their […]

    » Read More

  • Anti-bias policy that’s silly

    August 18, 2004

    It’s tough being a liberal.   I can hardly get through the day without my knee jerking or my heart bleeding. But sometimes the hardest part is staying in step with the liberal marching band.   For instance, it’s easy to say that discrimination is wrong, wrong, wrong. Oops, there goes my jerking knee again.   Except that it isn’t always wrong. Sometimes it’s just fine.   Let’s say that you are a Filipino student at UNC-Chapel Hill. It is a long hike from Chapel Hill to Manila, so you and some Filipino friends form a Philippine Students Association. You […]

    » Read More

  • Jones is backing fraternity; Christian group, UNC in dispute

    August 18, 2004

    UNC-Chapel Hill’s dispute with a Christian fraternity has drawn the attention of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, who has asked the federal government to look into the matter.Jones, a Farmville Republican, wrote the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights asking officials to examine what he called “the ongoing problem of censorship of Christian students at the Chapel Hill campus.” Alpha Iota Omega, a small, all-male Christian fraternity, has complained that the university revoked its official recognition after members refused to sign a nondiscrimination clause. The fraternity contends that its constitutional rights of free association and expression allow it to admit […]

    » Read More

  • UNC administrator implicated in newspaper theft

    August 16, 2004

    UNC administrators had better stock up on Maalox because it’s going to be a long week in Chapel Hill. Just last week the university was exposed for de-recognizing a Christian group without due process for an unthinkable transgression; they wanted to limit membership in the Christian group to people who are actually Christians.   Now, information has surfaced, which implicates the administrator who de-recognized the Christian group in the theft of a student newspaper in 1996. And wouldn’t you know it; the stolen newspaper was the Carolina Review, the only conservative newspaper on campus.   The theft of the student […]

    » Read More

  • University cuts off Christian fraternity

    August 15, 2004

    For the second time in two years the University of North Carolina finds itself embroiled in a First Amendment dispute with Christian groups on campus. The Chapel Hill school has removed official recognition of Alpha Iota Omega, a Christian fraternity, because its officers have refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application that would have required the group to accept any student as a member, regardless of religion.   The group was formed five years ago for the purpose of “providing leadership and outreach to the campus Greek community through evangelism and mentorship.” Without official recognition, Alpha Iota […]

    » Read More

  • Religion again issue at UNC-CH; Civil liberties group questions school’s action against Christian fraternity

    August 13, 2004

    UNC-Chapel Hill is once again facing criticism about students’ religious freedom on campus.The university last year yanked its official recognition of a Christian fraternity, meaning that it lost access to student fee money, campus facilities and Web service. The group, Alpha Iota Omega, refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application because it wanted to choose members who have similar religious beliefs.Now, a national civil liberties organization has taken up the fraternity’s cause. In a letter last month to UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser, the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the university’s action has denied the […]

    » Read More

  • Student group refuses to sign policy

    August 13, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL — UNC has declined to officially recognize a Christian student organization because the group has refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy.The fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, would not follow university policy because it would require that membership in the group be open to all, regardless of religion. Without official recognition, the fraternity cannot receive student fee money.A national individual rights group has taken up the fraternity’s cause. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently asked UNC Chancellor James Moeser to reconsider the university’s position.On Thursday, the university responded, reiterating its insistence that all student groups have open […]

    » Read More

  • UNC rejects religious fraternity

    August 13, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A Christian student organization which refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy has been denied official recognition by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   Alpha Iota Omega would not follow university policy because it would require that membership in the group be open to all, regardless of religion. Without official recognition, the fraternity cannot receive student fee money.   The fraternity refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application because it wanted to choose members who have similar religious beliefs. Now, the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently asked UNC-CH […]

    » Read More

  • Carolina’s Covert Religious War

    August 12, 2004

    In my career as a professor, I have noticed that college administrators often try to do things in private that they could never defend in public. That is why publicity is usually the best remedy when college administrators abuse their authority.  Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis probably put it best when he said that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”   But Louis Brandeis never met the current administration at UNC Chapel Hill. After being sued and embarrassed in the court of public opinion in 2003, there is now credible information indicating that the administration at UNC is waging a new […]

    » Read More

  • Univ. of North Carolina Won’t Recognize Christian Group

    August 12, 2004

    For the second time in less than two years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has denied recognition to a Christian group, claiming that the group’s desire to limit its membership to Christians constitutes “discrimination.”   “A Christian group has a right to be Christian, a Muslim group has a right to be Muslim, and a Jewish group has a right to be Jewish,” said David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “It seems absurd that anyone in a free society would have to make this argument, but time and time again […]

    » Read More


  • Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Brought by Christian Fraternity Against U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    May 19, 2006

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Christian fraternity against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which had previously refused to recognize the group because it bars non-Christians as members. The outcome was not a clear-cut victory for either side. That is because the university changed its nondiscrimination policy last year, allowing groups to select members “on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs” — even though they are still forbidden to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, for example. …   To read the full article, please click here: http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=6khxfctsx3yv4k4x7wy6yxs84l2g4ksc

    » Read More

  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is.French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general counsels […]

    » Read More

  • Victory for Freedom of Association at UNC-Chapel Hill

    March 7, 2005

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 7, 2005—Late last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) attempt to prevent a Christian fraternity from choosing its members based on religious belief.  U.S. District Judge Frank W. Bullock of the Middle District of North Carolina found that UNC’s application of its expansive nondiscrimination policy “raises significant constitutional concerns and could be violative of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”  The lawsuit against UNC was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in coordination with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education […]

    » Read More

  • UNC’s lawsuit saga begins next chapter

    October 25, 2004

    BY STEPHANIE NEWTON STAFF WRITER October 25, 2004 The University is set to respond today to a federal lawsuit that was filed Aug. 25 by a Christian civil rights group when students were just returning to classes. The Alliance Defense Fund stands poised for combat on behalf of Alpha Iota Omega, a three-member Christian fraternity that was denied official UNC recognition. After refusing last fall to sign the nondiscrimination and sexual orientation policies that are required of all UNC organizations, the fraternity members enlisted the support of national civil rights organizations to fight for what they consider their First Amendment […]

    » Read More

  • A fraternity struggles for freedom

    August 27, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA — The year was 1956, and the NAACP faced a grave challenge to its civil rights advocacy in the South. The State of Alabama had just ordered the NAACP to produce a list of all “members” and “agents” of the NAACP that were operating in Alabama. The NAACP refused to produce this list. Given the historical context, the organization’s objection to Alabama’s demand is easy to understand. If the identities of all NAACP members became publicly known, those individuals could be subject to severe reprisals, including threats and even lynching. In court, the NAACP argued that the First and […]

    » Read More

  • Alpha Iota Omega Files Suit Against UNC-Chapel Hill

    August 25, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., August 25, 2004—A federal lawsuit was filed today against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) by Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), a Christian fraternity that was denied recognition by UNC because it would not agree to open its membership to students of different faiths. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is fighting on behalf of AIO in its conflict with UNC administrators, is now joined by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which brought the suit against the university. “For too long, UNC has denied religious groups the basic rights that all student […]

    » Read More

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Denies Recognition to Another Christian Group

    August 12, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., August 12, 2004—For the second time in less than two years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has denied recognition to a Christian group, claiming that the group’s desire to limit its membership to Christians constitutes “discrimination.” “A Christian group has a right to be Christian, a Muslim group has a right to be Muslim, and a Jewish group has a right to be Jewish,” said David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “It seems absurd that anyone in a free society would have to make this argument, but […]

    » Read More