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North Carolina student wins recognition of college Christian group after discrimination claim

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A Christian student group won its battle with the University of North Carolina, which had balked at its demand for formal recognition on campus.

Bryn Carmichael, a 22-year-old senior at the school's Greensboro campus, had been denied school sanctioning of a group called "Make Up Your Own Mind," which espouses abstinence prior to marriage and denounces abortion, among other ideals. Carmichael's group wanted to mandate that the group's members and leadership all agree to the group's Christian Statement of Faith

The school at first rejected Carmichael’s request, citing its non-discrimination policy forbidding formally recognized student groups to deny membership on the basis of politics or religious creed. Carmichael enlisted the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, which cited the school’s own “belief-based exemption,” which stipulates that an overtly religious or politically oriented student group can discriminate if it first obtains permission to do so from university officials.

"I’m just indescribably happy."

- Bryn Carmichael, 22-year-old student

The school relented after the ADF filed suit last month.

“I was extremely excited that we were granted recognition, because we were trying for several months—almost a year. I’m just indescribably happy,” Carmichael told FoxNews.com.

There is one other campus chapter of Make Up Your Own Mind in the U.S., on the campus of Gilford Technical Community College just outside Greensboro, Carmichael said.

With formal recognition from the university, the Christian group is able to hold meetings in campus buildings, as well as solicit funding from the state-funded university..

The reason Carmichael's initial request was denied was that the school disputed that Make Up Your Own Mind was Christian enough to be considered a religious-based group. ADF legal  counsel Jeremy Tedesco said it's up to the group, not the school, to characterize it's beliefs.

“Saying that a Christian club isn’t religious is flatly absurd,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The First Amendment forbids the government from determining what is and what is not ‘religious,’ yet the university [was] doing exactly this by telling a Christian group that it is not religious.”

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