Freedom of Association at Public Universities

Golden Gate bridge in the fogStanford law professor Michael McConnell recently represented the Christian Legal Society (CLS) in their case against San Francisco’s UC Hastings College of The Law before the U. S. Supreme Court. The CLS lost that case on a 5-4 vote (read the ruling). I’ve asked Professor McConnell to answer a few questions about the ruling, and he has graciously agreed to do so and to allow me to publish his answers online.

Q: The court ruled 5-4 in favor of UC Hastings “all-comers” policy. Was this a broad ruling affecting Christian groups at public universities generally or a relatively narrow ruling?

A: It was the most narrow ruling possible. The all-comers policy on which the Court ruled is exceedingly unusual. The Court declined to rule on the more typical situation, where the school applies religious nondiscrimination rules to religious organizations, thus denying to religious groups the freedom enjoyed by most expressive organizations of choosing their own leaders. The Court did not even rule on the all-comers policy as actually applied at Hastings, but only on an abstract and hypothetical version that applies across the board to all organizations.

Q: So let’s say I’m a Chi Alpha or an Intervarsity director at some public university. Should I be discouraged or alarmed?

A: You should be concerned, and try to work with your university to prevent infringements on your rights, because the Court’s decision provides no help to you.

Q: Did any parts of the ruling surprise you?

A: In the course of rejecting CLS’s argument, the Court gave a surprisingly narrow interpretation to free speech (public forum) precedents that I thought were firmly established law.

Q: You have no doubt read many blog posts, op-eds and news articles summarizing both the case and the court’s decision. Are there any misunderstandings you would like to correct?

A: Too many to list.

In case you’re wondering, this case only affects public universities. Our ministry at Stanford won’t be directly affected.

You can read lots of summaries of the verdict. A few of the more interesting ones:

beware the H1XA virus

ChanchocheI sent this email out to my students last night and received such positive feedback I thought I’d share it here for my fellow campus ministers to adapt for use on their own campus.

In case you just stumbled upon this through some random internet search, I lead a ministry called Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship which is abbreviated with the Greek letters XA. That should be all you need to know in order to laugh/groan/hurl tomatoes at the below email.

Members of the Stanford Community,

In addition to the H1N1 virus – the so-called “swine flu” – sweeping
our campus, there is another and more insidious infection to beware.

I speak, of course, of the H1XA virus – the so-called “divine flu”.

The H1XA virus is extremely contagious. Symptoms include joy,
friendship, and a profound sense of spiritual centeredness. Carriers
can be identified by their cheerful countenance, their moral
lifestyle, and occasionally by their stylish t-shirts. Should you meet
someone already infected, know that there is no cure (especially if
they already have a t-shirt). Avoid them lest you yourself be seized
by divine purpose accompanied by rapturous joy and immersion in
meaningful community.

There will be a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 7:30pm in
370-370 to discuss this disease in more detail. Please know that
epidemonologists are available to help prevent this disease from
spreading. Bring everyone you know who is not already infected.

Do not despair. It will be tough, but we can pull through this together.

Should conditions on campus become unbearable, we can all flee to the
woods Oct 17-18. Get your escape ticket at


Glen (a concerned member of the campus community)

Hope you find it useful. Or at least amusing. I’ll even settle for memorable. 😉

And if you’re a Stanford student who didn’t receive this little charmer, sign up for our mailing list at!

Chi Alpha Favorably Profiled In The Stanford Daily

Halls of Learning - Stanford QuadThe Stanford Daily published an article titled Testimonies On Stanford Faith about people in our ministry (Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship).

The website the article focuses on is

Reading this article was very encouraging to me because I always fear that Chi Alpha will wind up in the Daily because of some boneheaded thing I said in a sermon… this was a much better experience. 😉

Reaching College Students

My seminary’s alumni magazine, Rapport

national lampoon presents cattle call movie download , just published an article I wrote, Change The University, Change The World.

It came out pretty well – although I did notice one mistake (which is probably my fault, not theirs). One sentence reads, “But for each nation that missionaries go to, there are hundreds of thousands of students from that nation currently studying in America.” Clearly that should be written more along the lines of, “But for each nation that missionaries go to, there are usually hundreds OR thousands of students from that nation studying in America.”

The other articles in that issue are also about college ministry, including three by former students of mine:

download donkey xote online

I’m proud of them – they’re doing great things in God’s service. It was a privilege to play a small role in preparing them for ministry.

Joe, of course, played an even larger role in their lives than I did. One more testimony of his impact.

Joe – we miss you.

And to everyone who’s wondering if I’ll be at the funeral tomorrow, I’m sad to report that I won’t be. Just wasn’t able to work it out. I’ll be there in spirit.

Impact of the First World Missions Summit

The World Missions Summit is coming up at the end of this year, and so I asked E. Scott Martin (czar of the summit) what the long-term fruit of the first summit has been. His answer floored me and I share it with his permission.

He uses a lot of acronyms (he was writing an email to me off the top of his head, not expecting me to post it for the world to see), so let me give you a glossary:

  • AGUSM/USM – Assemblies of God United States Missions
  • AGWM/WM – Assemblies of God World Missions
  • CMA – Campus Missionary Associate (people serving in Chi Alpha as associate staff, usually on a short-term basis [a few years])
  • MA – Missionary Associate (people serving one to two years)
  • MAPS – Missionary Abroad Placement Service (people serving 1-11 months, often in construction projects)
  • MENA – Middle East/North Africa
  • TWMS – The World Missions Summit
  • XA – Chi Alpha Campus Ministries

You’ll probably need to refer back to that list several times as you read his email unless you’re very familiar with Assemblies of God in-house lingo.

…here are the hard stats. 661 students filled out commitment cards at TWMS. Neither AGWM, USM, or XA were really prepared to track those who came from TWMS and joined them in mission through MAPS, MA, or fully appointed missionaries. I inquired this past summer with Family Life and Personnel in AGWM about the number of students who had already gone to fulfill their commitment. To the best of their ability they sent me a spread sheet of 78 people who they related to TWMS due to the fact that their applications had the TWMS logo on them. However, of my 13 MAs and MAPpers serving with us in Kyrgyzstan at that time, only 2 of them were on that list and all of them made commitments at the Missions Summit.

I sent this observation back to AGWM and that is when they informed me they only went by the logo. I then began to correlate their list with those Crystal and I personally knew had gone AGWM from TWMS (We had 22 MAs and MAPers in our AGWM Area MENA and Central Eurasia with only 3 of them on the AGWM list being from TWMS) and we came up with 221 students who had gone so far since TWMS. This was the summer of 2007. And believe me, this is not comprehensive. There are more we don’t know about and I know of 3 who followed up their commitments with other agencies and actually informed AGWM of that so that AGWM knew they did not renege on their commitment to go. USM has absolutely no idea what so ever on who has connected in their various ministries after TWMS. We know of 2 who have contacted us who went USM outside of XA.

Here is the other big news. The number of CMAs in XA accelerated dramatically after TWMS. I will ask Bob what the number was prior to TWMS but today we have 168 MAs in the field which is far beyond what we have ever had. Bob and NLT suggest it is the direct result of TWMS, but that judgment is based only on the fact that the numbers leapt following TWMS and on conversations with campus pastors and those MAs.

At this past AGWM Missionary Interview and orientation 10 days ago which is only fully appointed and MAs, not MAPS (which most Chi Alphans go as now) there were 14 who had signed commitments at TWMS. 4 of those were fully appointed AGWM missionary candidates. Every PFO and interview there are more and more from TWMS. They asked who “signed cards” and not “who was at TWMS” so again I don’t think it is an accurate representation but close. Some have gone who made decisions at TWMS but didn’t sign the card. So, we could add these 14 to the 221 in AGWM. And I don’t have the list from October either which would add even more.

Based on this information I can safely and accurately say that at least half of those who signed the card at TWMS have fulfilled their commitments and we still have many in the pipeline right now from the first TWMS.

Wow. Two stats stand out to me.

1) Roughly 15% (661 out of around 4,000) of those at The World Missions Summit committed to give a year and pray about a lifetime of missionary service. That’s impressive but not unprecedented. Lots of people get caught up in emotional moments at conferences and say things that they later reconsider.
2) Over half of those people have already delivered and more are on the way (presumably finishing college first). That’s amazing. I hardly know what to do with a number like that except praise God. For comparison purposes, I would guess that at a youth camp or something the equivalent fulfillment rate is closer to 10%.

Bottom line – the first World Missions Summit rocked. God really used it to advance His plan on earth. I expect great things from the second one as well. Register now

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