2015 Victories: Protecting Christian Group’s Right to Choose Its Own Leaders



November 18, 2015

2 min read

Free Speech



This is the latest installment in a year-end series looking back at a few of the many victories by the ACLJ in 2015.

In a huge victory for religious liberty, the ACLJ won a major case on behalf of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, protecting the right of churches and religious organizations to select their ministers and spiritual directors without government interference.

The case began when a disgruntled former InterVarsity employee sued the Christian group because it had fired her for breaking its religiously based employment policy, claiming it was unlawful discrimination.  At the ACLJ, we aggressively fought for this Christian group’s First Amendment rights all the way to a federal appeals court.  Ultimately, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her claims and issued an opinion in favor of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, upholding a religious organization’s First Amendment right to choose its own leaders.

With its ruling in favor of InterVarsity, the court affirmed that the “ministerial exception” — which traditionally allows churches to choose their own ministers without government interference — applies not just to churches and church-based entities, but also to “religious organizations” like the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

This victory is a resounding win for religious liberty and the First Amendment.  It is not the business of the government to determine who may or may not serve as a minister of the Gospel.  With your help, the ACLJ will keep fighting for the ongoing protection of religious liberty in America.

To help the ACLJ continue to have the resources we need to make these victories possible and continue these fights,please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ACLJ through our year-end Matching Challenge.  Your gift will be doubled dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year.

You will be able to read more in the ACLJ’s 2015 Victories series here.