updated 12/30/2005 10:38:10 AM ET 2005-12-30T15:38:10

A General Motors Corp. program that lets Hispanics, blacks or lesbians _ but not Christians _ organize in employee groups does not commit religious discrimination, a federal court ruled.

The company's Affinity Group diversity program treats all religions equally because no groups are allowed to promote religious positions, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled.

The claim arose after John Moranski, a born-again Christian who works at GM's Allison Transmission plant in Indianapolis, applied in December 2002 to start an interdenominational Christian employees group as part of the diversity program, according to court documents.

GM rejected the application because program guidelines do not allow the groups to promote religious positions, the documents say. Moranski filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then filed a federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination.

A federal judge in Indianapolis dismissed the suit, and the appeals court upheld the decision, agreeing that the program handled all religions equally.

"The allegations in Moranski's complaint make clear that General Motors would have taken the same action had he possessed a different religious position," Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the appeals court.

According to GM's Web site, the program recognizes nine groups, including ones for people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, women and veterans, and five for people of Hispanic, African or Asian ancestry.

No home telephone number was listed for Moranski in the Indianapolis area, and he could not be located for comment.

GM corporate diversity spokeswoman Crystal Hickman said Friday she was not familiar with the lawsuit.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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