Separation of Church and State
Southern Illinois University law school sued by
The local chapter of the national Christian Legal Society is suing Southern Illinois
University's law school for
refusing to recognize the organization. The group requires its members to pledge to
adhere to Christian beliefs [including a prohibition against homosexuality].
The suit filed against the university's law school Tuesday in federal
court, is alleging school officials violated the group's constitutional rights,
including the right to free speech, by revoking its status March 25.
The revocation means the group can no longer use the university's facilities
or name, and is no longer eligible for school funding, according to the lawsuit.
A university official said, however, the group can still use campus facilities.
The group's attorney, M. Casey Mattox said the Annandale, Va.-based Christian Legal Society has filed similar lawsuits
against other schools, including Arizona State University and the University of
Southern Illinois University based its actions on what it called violations
of school policy that official student organizations must adhere to all federal
and state nondiscrimination laws [per the lawsuit filing].
It appears that a natural law claim, an unalienable right, is the basis for
the lawsuit as evidenced by the filing's provision that point to the student
organization's requirement that a statement of faith that society members must vow to follow includes, among
other prohibitions, "the Bible's prohibition of sexual conduct between
persons of the same sex," the lawsuit says.
Mattox saids the Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian lawyers,
law students, law professors and judges with chapters in more than 1,000 cities
across the country. According to Mattox the university chapter had fewer than
Law school dean Peter C. Alexander said Wednesday night he had only just
received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment.
The lawsuit asks for relief and seeks an injunction that would restore the group's
former status at the law school,  asks that the school be ordered to pay the group's legal fees.
The University's web site provides the following on the School:
From its humble beginnings as the state’s second teachers college —
founded in 1869 with a dozen academic departments and an inaugural class of 143
– Southern Illinois University Carbondale now ranks among Illinois’ most
comprehensive public universities.
Each year, some 21,500 students enroll in the 175 academic programs seeking
associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional degrees in
law and medicine.
Think of a specialty and chances are good we offer a degree in it. And
Among our academic programs you’ll find agriculture, art, aviation,
automotive technology, anthropology, business, cinema-photography, computer
science, education, engineering, foreign language study, forestry, history,
journalism, music, political science, radio-television, social work, recreation,
rehabilitation — just to mention a few.
Students flock to our academic programs and while they’re here, they fall
in love with our lush, rural landscapes and welcoming hospitality.
Surrounded by forests, fields, lakes and bluffs, SIUC is a regional nucleus
of academic, creative and cultural endeavors. And the region is an outdoor
paradise for boaters, rock climbers, hikers, nature lovers, hunters and
For further details on SIU go to http://www.siuc.edu/aboutsiuc/index.html
Christian Legal Society gives of its history on its web page as follows:
It all began with a late-night conversation in 1959, following a time of
prayer while both were attending an American Bar Association national
convention, when Paul Barnard and Henry Luke Brinks talked about the need for a
national association of Christian lawyers. Former Wheaton College
classmates, Barnard, a law professor at Stetson University, St. Petersburg,
Florida, and Brinks, an attorney in the Chicago firm of Bryon, Hume, Groen and
Clement, had arrived independently at the same conclusion: Christian lawyers had
no network for sharing their problems and finding fellowship. Pastors and
church groups did not know how to locate Christian lawyers who were willing and
able to offer legal counsel from a Christian perspective. Christian
doctors had the Christian Medical Society to assist them to integrate their
faith and profession, so why not form a Christian “legal society?”
interest in the project, Barnard with the able assistance of Patricia, his
beloved wife, sent out “a flock of letters” to friends, friends of friends
and other people he thought might be interested. Meanwhile, in Chicago,
Brinks and his uncle, Gerrit P. Groen, also a Chicago attorney, began meeting
with several other Christian lawyers for lunch and fellowship on a monthly
basis. Whenever possible, Barnard would fly in from Florida to join
them. While most of the names have changed, this original Chicago “Loop
Group” continues to meet monthly today. Having established this base, and
knowing from Barnard's mail survey that substantial national interest existed in
a Christian legal society, the time-consuming task of preparing for
incorporation was begun. Naming Paul Barnard their president and
appointing Brinks, Groen and Elmer Johnson, a Chicago lawyer who later served as
the General Counsel to General Motors, as the first board of directors, the
founding "Chicago chapter" filed the Articles of Incorporation for the
Christian Legal Society on October 19, 1961. On February 3, 1962 CLS held
its first Board of Director’s meeting at 38 South Dearborn Street, Chicago,
Illinois, at which time the first CLS by-laws were adopted and the first
twenty-one (20) “members of the corporation”, along with the first five (5)
“officers of the corporation” were elected “subject to their acceptance
and submission of properly executed applications.”
“Treasurer’s Report”, as of August 3, 1962 shows total cash on hand to be
$412.06, principally derived from membership dues of $10 paid by 35 members and
four contributions none of which exceeded $100. Just as is true today,
five of the original 40 members at that time “had not yet gotten around to
paying their dues.” Some things never change.
operates a revenue budget of about $2.2 million principally derived from about
$350,000 of membership dues and the balance being charitable contributions,
conference revenues and other fees. Just as was true at its founding, CLS
continues to be a good steward of the resources our LORD provides and, as a
founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA),
continues to make its “treasurer’s reports” available to the public, but
not now through our web site, www.clsnet.org.
original purposes of the Christian Legal Society, as stated in the formal
paperwork, were remarkably similar to the nine purposes now listed in CLS’
current Vision and Mission Statement: 
- To provide a means of society among Christian lawyers
- To clarify and promote the concept of the Christian lawyer.
- To encourage and aid deserving young students in preparing for the
- To provide a forum for the discussion of problems relating to
Christianity and law.
- To cooperate with bar associations and other organizations in
asserting and maintaining high standards of legal ethics.
For further details on CLS go to http://www.clsnet.org/index.phpx