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A Christian fraternity that refused to adopt the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s nondiscrimination policy sued Wednesday, claiming it was denied official campus recognition. Alpha Iota Omega objects to a school requirement that its membership be open to everyone regardless of religion or sexual orientation. Officers and founders of the non-denominational fraternity say every member is required to participate in the organization’s primary mission of Christian evangelism from a personal perspective. “Non-Christians would not be able to meet that very basic criteria of membership for our organization,” said Trevor Hamm, president of the UNC-CH chapter. Also, the group said, allowing homosexual students to join would violate the organization’s standards of conduct, which restrict members to married, heterosexual sex. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, seeks an injunction barring the university from requiring the group to sign the nondiscrimination policy. UNC Chancellor James Moeser declined to comment on details of the lawsuit, but noted that the school has 42 recognized religious student groups with nearly 5,000 members. He said the university believes its position strikes the right balance between nondiscrimination and free association — rights guaranteed in the Constitution. “We are a public institution, and we cannot discriminate. That’s the law,” Moeser said. He noted that Alpha Iota Omega is not banned from campus, though its nonofficial status means it is ineligible for privileges that include priority access to university facilities and eligibility for money generated by student fees. Alpha Iota Omega has 37 members nationwide, three of whom are now students at UNC. It was an officially recognized group until last year, when changes in the application for recognition led its officers to refuse to sign. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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