update on BYX legal action

Here’s an update on the ongoing Brothers Under Christ suit against the University of Florida. This is interesting news, and I just received it in an email last night (since I’m a BYX alum).

UF originally denied the local chapter status as a student organization because of a requirement for members to be Christians. (Beta Upsilon Chi / BYX is centered on “cell groups” as they work to “establish brotherhood and unity among college men based upon the common bond of Jesus Christ,” so they feel members of this unique community should be Christians.) Oral arguments before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals took place in December.

(My original post describing all this is here.)

Based on what BYX is reporting, on January 15th UF sent a motion to the court indicating that they have met BYX’s requests and asking the court to dismiss the suit.

However, BYX has chosen to request a ruling (instead of accepting the dismissal). Based on what BYX national leadership wrote the alumni tonight, they have made this choice for the following reasons (presumably while working closely with their representation):

  • They feel the arguments given last month went really well, and they feel this request by UF evidences that fact.
  • The university could reverse its policy changes in the future if a ruling is not handed down.
  • A ruling in BYX’s favor would require the university to pay the fraternity’s legal fees, which obviously helps the Christian Legal Society representing them.
  • A ruling in BYX’s favor would establish precedent for both future Brothers Under Christ chapters and other Christian organizations.

I do know that some people feel national precedent of this kind is needed for college ministry as a whole. Many similar cases elsewhere have simply been settled out of court, which (when favorable) can be great – but it doesn’t necessarily stop future problems from occurring.

Still, this is obviously risky on the part of Brothers Under Christ, since the justices could decide against them.

I don’t know enough about this case to make a judgment call on the merits, etc., but I did want to report. If you know more, feel free to comment. And however it ends up, this could definitely impact American college ministry.

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