A member of the University of Virginia Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship says he was “pushed” out of a leadership position when he came out as gay.
Alex Breigel posted to Reddit an open letter detailing what transpired, noting he was “distraught” at Chi Alpha’s wish for him to step down as leader of a Bible study group.
“XA wanted me to step down as a leader because they claimed my views and actions clearly contradict Bible teaching,” Breigel wrote. He added he was upset that Chi Alpha did not ask him to “confess” or “repent,” but instead was offered “no forgiveness.”
Breigel ultimately left Chi Alpha completely. The fellowship told The Cavalier Daily it was Breigel’s own decision to leave.
“Alex chose to step down from a leadership role in Chi Alpha over disagreement with our religious beliefs,” Chi Alpha said. “But he is and always has been welcome as a member in our community, as is any U.Va. student.”
In response to this and a similar incident, the UVA Student Council last Tuesday voted 26-1 to denounce discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Resolution co-sponsor Jason Evans told The Daily that the Student Council has called upon the Legislative Affairs committee “to lobby the General Assembly on this matter.”
But what difference would that make? It depends:
To maintain status as a contract independent organization, Chi Alpha must abide by the CIO [Contracted Independent Organization] Agreement, which includes a non-discrimination clause which prevents restriction of membership based on “age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status and family and genetic information.”
However, the agreement also includes a clause that was added after the decision of a 2010 Supreme Court case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. The Virginia statute — § 23.1-400 — passed as a result of the court decision mandates that a “religious or political student organization” may determine membership based on commitment to “the organization’s religious or political mission.”
In accordance with this statute, the CIO Agreement also allows organizations to “petition to restrict its membership” based on members’ commitment to their primary “mission.”
Dean of Students Allen Groves said the matter is “complex” as it’s “unclear” whether the exclusion of gays is part of Chi Alpha’s primary “mission.” The group’s website says Chi Alpha is “guided by three anchors — “real devotional life, real community, and real responsibility.” Its views on homosexuality aren’t noted anywhere.
Breigel claims Chi Alpha never discussed LGBTQ+ relationships nor discussed its beliefs “in the public sphere.” He said “I think the next time [Chi Alpha] does that series, they need to make their viewpoint very clear — that they do not support homosexual relationships.”
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