Christian Group Expelled for Foot Washing

7 09 2007

Filed under: Savannah State, Commissioned II, First Amendment, Church and State

If schools such as the University of Michigan that are actually paying for the installation of footbaths on campus for Muslims is allowed under the “tolerance” rationalization, then a Christian student-group that performs foot-washing off campus should at least be left alone if not permitted to practice their beliefs on campus as well. Not so, says Savannah State University.

A group of Christian students called Commissioned II Love was expelled last year for “practices that are not unlike [that] of a cult.” The action came after other students complained that the group’s off-campus foot-washing and baptism ceremonies were akin to “hazing.”

The student group, Commissioned II Love, was recognized as an official organization in 2003 but was later suspended and then expelled in 2006, after some students complained to university police that its members engaged in “practices that are not unlike (that) of a cult,” such as “foot washings” and “baptisms,” a court document states.

“Christian groups can’t be treated as second-class citizens on campus,” said Joseph Martins, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, which has sued the school on behalf of the group and its officers.

“What’s happened here is Savannah State University, which is a public university, has basically kicked off (the group) simply because they’ve been exercising their First Amendment rights.”

What about on campus activities by the group?

The group had been controversial on campus, holding events with guest speakers on its “Biblical Perspectives on Greekdom,” which criticized the partying atmosphere of some Greek-letter organizations.

Gasp! Speak in peace what the Bible says about sin? That mustn’t be tolerated.

Commissioned II members, with the help of ADF, have sued the university and apparently have a good case since a federal court judge denied the school’s request to dismiss the case.

Foot washing is an ancient and sacred tradition that represents Jesus’ example to love and serve others. The school gave no consideration to the religious symbol, the nature of the activity, nor the willingness of the participants when they delivered the expulsion. Instead, they expelled the group because their ritual could “endanger the health of a student.”

If the university expects their “endanger the health” argument to hold up in court, they might should consider the absurdity before moving forward. After all, the university certainly has sinks and showers on campus too that could “endanger the health of a student.” Another consideration the university should have been aware of is that school officials gained knowledge about the events from other students, no doubt upset at Commissioned’s bold stand against sin. University leaders should know better than to argue “hazing” and “endanger the health” when they are fully aware of the activities of it’s Greek clubs on campus and the far more prominent threat to student’s safety they pose.

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