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Biden Administration Takes Aim at Faith-based College Clubs

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Hostility towards religion in the American public sphere has grown immensely over the past decade. Christians have been bullied into silence and some even believe there is no place for their opinion in the public square. Unfortunately, due to these bullying tactics some Christians have almost voluntarily taken themselves out of the public square, believing the lie that their opinion is not as valuable as others. Although the pressure to be silent exists everywhere in American life, there is nothing quite like the modern-day college campus where Christians are openly belittled and thought of as “antiquated and dumb.” 

Young Women for America (YWA), a project of Concerned Women for America, has 15 college chapters across the United States that actively engages college students to think about how their Christian faith intersects with politics. It is not uncommon for the YWA chapters to experience difficulties on their campus, like one of the YWA chapters, whose room reservations are often “lost” by the student who reserves rooms for campus organizations. Although the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that religious groups have the right to be officially recognized by colleges and universities, colleges and universities have continued to discriminate against religious groups. For example, Cru, an international Christian organization that boasts 2,300 campus clubs across the United States, has been a recognized student group with a religious leadership requirement on most Cal State campuses since the 1950s. Then in 2014, Cal State attempted to derecognize any religious group with leadership requirements based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. 

The Trump Administration implemented the Free Inquiry Rule to combat open discrimination happening on college campuses. It simply states that public colleges that receive grants from the Department of Education must allow religious student groups to meet on campus with access to the same benefits that other student groups receive. This rule only affirmed and strengthened previous Supreme Court decisions. One would believe that the Biden Administration would desire to protect the religious freedoms of college students who often have a hard time adjusting to college. Religious groups provide resources, community, and comfort to students who are going through a tumultuous time of change. Although some religious groups do require students to adhere to their sincere religious beliefs for club leadership positions, religious groups do not require involved students to do the same. Religious groups are open to anybody attending or being involved whether they adhere to religious affiliation or not, creating a space that cultivates discussion and exploration of faith. 

However, the Biden Administration hardly sees the value of faith-based organizations on campuses and has chosen to rescind the Trump Administration’s Free Inquiry Rule. They say that the regulation creates confusion for college administrators and that courts, not the Department of Education, should protect students’ religious freedom. The rule did not create confusion among college administrators, as a Cru administrator shared with a group of religious freedom organizations. She said that the rule provided clarity and gave Cru something tangible to show to college administrators when they were facing pushback on college campuses. The mere suggestion that religious groups need to fall back on the court for religious protection is staggering. For every one religious group that is well-funded and obtains an intricate and well-staffed administrative team, hundreds other religious groups that run their groups with only volunteers and no budget. It is for these smaller organizations that asking them to go to court is absurd; they have no money to pay for one staff, but the Biden Administration expects these small groups to incur thousands of dollars of legal fees. The Administration must be held accountable for protecting the religious freedom rights of all collegiate students. 

Please let the Biden Administration know the recension of the Free Inquiry Rule hurts college students by submitting a comment at our Action Center here.