In a policy shift, Tufts University will allow student faith groups to maintain religious requirements for their leaders, overturning a ruling that an evangelical Christian group had violated the Medford school's nondiscrimination policy.
Last month, an arm of the student government voted to withdraw recognition of Tufts Christian Fellowship because it required its leaders to celebrate "the basic biblical truths of Christianity," saying it violated school policies against religious discrimination.
The decision, which touched on an issue that has roiled a number of college campuses, drew sharp criticism from religious freedom groups.
The fellowship appealed the decision to a faculty-student committee, which held Wednesday that a religious group could require leaders to adhere to its faith. The fellowship can reapply for campus recognition under the new guidelines.
The student group praised the decision, saying it "protects religious freedom and affirms the vital contributions that Tufts Christian Fellowship and all other religious groups make to . . . a diverse campus."
The faculty committee found the student government panel had ruled correctly and then crafted an exemption for religious groups, which must have leadership requirements reviewed by the Tufts chaplain.
"If a religious doctrine requires departure from Tufts' nondiscrimination policy,'' the leaders of the committee wrote in an article in the student newspaper, it is incumbent on the student group "to highlight the conflict between the two and show how it affects the group's choice of leaders."
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