Owens to Cardona: Don’t Trample on Religious Student Organizations’ Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04), the Chairman of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee, co-signed a letter to the Department of Education urging the Department to withdraw a proposed rule that removes protections provided to religious student organizations at public institutions of higher education:

In the letter, the Members write: “The proposed rollback of these protections lacks any compelling rationale, and sends a dangerous message to students and university administrators that religious liberty is not a priority.”

The Members continue: “Student groups seek ‘recognition’ from universities to receive a portion of student activity fees, have the option to reserve meeting space on campus at no expense, and to advertise the organization to other students. There are many examples of unfair impediments to the recognition of religious student groups, often based on leadership requirements and on objections to religious content. Indeed, one such lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was settled in January after the university cited ‘political and ideological’ concerns as the reason for denying student funding to a religious student club to host a Christian philosopher.”

The letter concludes: “Rescinding this portion of the Free Inquiry rule due to hypothetical instances of ‘burden’ or ‘confusion’ is wholly unwarranted, unsupported by the evidence, and will be detrimental to religious liberty on campuses nationwide.”

Read the full letter here.

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