Wednesday, March 14, 2007

God and the First Amendment Go to College

InsideHigherEd has a fascinating analysis of recent religion-related decisions at colleges.

There is a middle ground between the extremes of Terence Pell (give religious groups special privileges) and Barry Lynn (ban all religious groups from funding at public colleges). It’s simply this: treat religious student groups exactly the same as other groups. They can receive funding, but they have to play by the same rules and restrictions as other student groups, including nondiscrimination rules. Every nonreligious group manages to obey nondiscrimination rules without losing their identity, so why can’t religious groups do it?

Unfortunately, Pell’s idea (embraced by FIRE and the Alliance Defense Fund and other conservative groups) is beginning to prevail due to the threat of litigation and the failure of lower courts to understand the Supreme Court’s rulings in Rosenberger and Southworth, which both stand precisely for the middle ground principle of equal treatment with no special privileges.

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