Press Release

Michigan Governor, Attorney General defend students' religious freedom Officials say that Michigan universities can’t discriminate against religious groups like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Media Contact

Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michigan Governor Richard Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette have sided with the student group InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in its fight to continue serving its campus community, stating that Michigan universities must respect the rights of religious student groups to choose their own leaders. The announcement comes as a blow to Detroit-based Wayne State University in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship v. Wayne State University, where the University claims InterVarsity cannot choose leaders who agree with its faith, even though the University lets more than 90 other student groups choose their leaders.  

In March, after being kicked out by Wayne State, InterVarsity sued the University as well as the Michigan Attorney General and Governor to defend its right to remain a part of the campus community it has served for over 75 years. Since the Attorney General and Governor have now acknowledged that state universities may not punish religious student groups for selecting religious leaders, InterVarsity late yesterday dropped its lawsuit against them.  

“This is a great day for religious freedom and free speech in Michigan,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, which represents the student group. “Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have recognized that state universities can’t discriminate against religious student groups. We hope Wayne State will take notice.”  

InterVarsity welcomes all students to join as members and only requires that its leaders agree with its faith. But in late 2017, Wayne State kicked the group off campus, canceled the group’s reserved meetings, and forced it to pay thousands to continue holding Bible studies on campus—all because it disagreed with InterVarsity’s leadership requirement. After the student group filed a lawsuit, represented by Becket, the University let the group back on campus. But the University is now asking the court for the power to keep its old, discriminatory policy. The court is set to decide soon whether Wayne State violated InterVarsity’s rights.  

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Melinda Skea at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.