Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wisconsin God

FIRE observes that the new University of Wisconsin policy on religious student groups is an oddly written thing that doesn't resolve the problem there. Luke Sheahan of FIRE declares, "Essential to the idea of freedom of conscience is the ability to hold certain beliefs, even unpopular ones, and to assemble with like-minded individuals to the exclusion of those who disagree." It's those last seven words that cause the problem here. Who decides what individuals can be excluded? Who determines how much disagreement is acceptable? In a private organization, it's the people who create the group. But a student group at a public university must follow different rules. It's the administration or student judicial process that enforces the rules, and this puts them in the impossible position of determining whether a student is a real Christian, for example. FIRE's approach is an unconstitutional violation of the religious liberty of individuals to participate in student organizations at public universities. The best solution is for universities to have nondiscrimination and allow students to choose their own leaders, without any rules or oaths or tests imposed.

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