InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other faith-based student groups are praising a Department of Education final rule issued Wednesday that they say will protect campus student organizations’ right to choose leaders who share their religious beliefs.
The regulation — Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities — comes in response to an executive order issued in March 2019 signed by President Donald Trump that vowed to withhold federal research grants from colleges and universities that are hostile to First Amendment rights of students.
According to the department, the new rule “ensures the equal treatment and constitutional rights of religious student organizations at public institutions and provides clarity for faith-based institutions” concerning Title IX discrimination law.
“[T]he Final Rule prohibits discrimination against religious student organizations because of their beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards, which are informed by sincerely held religious beliefs,” a two-page summary of the rule explains.
“[A] religious student organization would have the same rights as other student organizations at the public institution to receive official recognition, to use the institution’s facilities, and to receive student fee funds.”
The final rule comes as some faith-based campus groups across the country have been denied recognition by universities for having policies that require leaders of the organizations to adhere to their statements of faith, which has led to several legal battles.
In 2018, the University of Iowa derecognized dozens of student groups that the school deemed to have discriminatory leadership policies. Lawsuits were filed by InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship and Business Leaders in Christ, a group that was derecognized because its statement of faith prohibited leaders from engaging in same-sex relationships.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith