Court to Decide Christian Fraternity Case

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An Atlanta appeals court will decide Wednesday whether a Christian male fraternity must be recognized as a student organization at the University of Florida.

Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), the nation's largest Christian social fraternity, has been fighting for more than a year to establish a chapter on the college campus.

But the university has refused to recognize the group, claiming they discriminated against non-Christians by only offering membership to Christian men.

In July 2007, attorneys from the Center for Law & Religious Freedom and the Alliance Defense Fund, two Christian legal groups, filed suit against the University on behalf of BYX.

The lawsuit held that the Christian fraternity had been "locked out of the UF campus" and would only be recognized if it gave up "its identity as a men's organization or if it abandons its religious criteria for members."

"Christian student groups should not be singled out for discrimination," said CLRG litigation counsel Timothy Tracey. "The right to associate with people of like mind and interest applies to all student groups on a public university campus."

In July 2008, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta set the lawsuit aside, but required that the University of Florida recognize the fraternity while the case was on appeal.

Now, the appeals court judges will decide the final outcome of the case after Wednesday's hearings.

"We are confident that the 11th Circuit will not allow the University of Florida to deprive BYX of this right by forcing the group to abandon its identity as a Christian men's organization," Tracey said.

BYX, also known as Brothers Under Christ, was founded in 1985 and has 21 chapters in the U.S. There are at least 210 Christian fraternities and sororities nationwide.

Sources: Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Legal Society, USA Today, Beta Upsilon Chi

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