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Campus Freedom Setback

intervarsity Christian Fellowship College Student Group
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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

The Biden administration is set to revoke a federal regulation that defends religious liberty on college and university campuses.

Christian legal groups were elated when, in 2020, Education Secretary Betsy De Vos put forward a rule stipulating that colleges that receive federal funding cannot deny religious organizations of any right, benefit, or privilege that is allowed to other organizations.

The 2020 Open Inquiry Rule allows the federal government to withhold federal aid from any college or university that, simply because of the religious nature or beliefs of faith-based groups, denies them the accommodations it provides to other organizations. This rule provides campus faith-based groups with a level playing field and ensures that academic institutions have clear guidelines for protecting religious expression.

Over the years, college administrations have challenged Christian groups for preaching the gospel and for hosting speakers who espouse biblical views regarding the sanctity of life, sexuality, marriage, etc. Often, campus Christian groups must seek legal help to fight requirements that they install non-Christians as leaders. One egregious example, highlighted in a recent Breakpoint commentary, occurred in 2014-15 when “the California State University system withdrew recognition from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship because it required its leaders to hold Christian beliefs.”

Secretary De Vos considered decades of battles over pressure upon and discrimination against campus religious groups. She concluded that a rule that raised the possibility of the loss of federal funds would provide the best incentive for academic institutions to uphold these groups’ First Amendment rights.

Last month, the Biden administration announced it will revoke the Open Inquiry Rule. Their regulators state the rule is “not necessary” and that students who feel their First Amendment rights are being violated, can seek relief in court. They argue that protection of students’ religious freedom is “a novel and unduly burdensome role” for the Department of Education.

In today’s cancel culture, students’ seeking to express sincerely held religious beliefs, need more protection, not less.penna's vp small

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