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Biden Rolls Back Protection for Campus Faith Groups
Analysis. The U.S. Department of Education affirms that it cares about religious freedom for student groups on college campuses — it just doesn’t want to proactively defend them. At least that appears to be the gist of a recent announcement out of the Biden administration.
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Last month the Biden team signaled its intention to roll back a 2020 rule put in place to ensure equal treatment for student religious groups like Intervarsity, Cru, and others at public universities. Common benefits for a diverse array of student groups at colleges often include access to meeting space on campus, listings and announcements on physical and digital college platforms, participation in student fairs, and eligibility for student group funds. But too often Christian student organizations have faced discrimination because of the biblical beliefs they seek to uphold.
In an effort to tamp down on the recurrence of such discrimination, the Trump administration decided to take a very practical “carrot-and-stick” approach to back up its words about the importance of First Amendment freedoms — it put money on the line. According to its 2020 rule, as a condition for receiving federal grant money, an institution of higher learning would now need to ensure that faith-based student groups are allowed “any right, benefit, or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student organizations.”
It’s notable that this regulation specifically emphasized it was not creating a preference for religious groups. The rule wasn’t meant to prevent all-comers or “neutral, generally applicable” policies. Rather the rule was seeking to support the equal treatment of faith-based groups while honoring their identity.
“These regulations hold public institutions accountable for protecting the First Amendment rights of students and student organizations,” then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in 2020.
However, after a review that began in 2021, the current Biden team now believes this condition for public funding is “not necessary.” In a blog post announcing the reversal, Postsecondary Education Assistant Secretary Nasser Paydar suggested equal treatment of religious groups is important, but the the 2020 protection was confusing for schools and “unduly burdensome” on the Education Department.
“Where complex questions over the First Amendment arise, Federal and State courts are best equipped to resolve these matters,” he wrote.
In other words, if you’re a religious student group facing exclusion for your beliefs on campus, the Biden team doesn’t want to proactively get involved. You’re on your own to get a lawyer and pay to defend your rights.
This is a pretty remarkable position. Former ambassador and longtime champion for religious freedom Sam Brownback posted an op-ed on foxnews.com pointing out the unlikelihood that the Biden Education team would simply sit on its hands if there were a racial or gender discrimination case.
“Everyone would expect the administration to take quick and decisive administrative action without requiring the victim to hire a lawyer and pursue justice in the courts,” Brownback wrote. “So, why should it be any different when an educational institution violates a student’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion?”
The Christian Legal Society, which maintains a number of campus chapters itself, has a helpful webpage addressing holes in the Education Department’s reasoning and pushing for action against rescinding these religious freedom provisions. In addition to highlighting a host of cases supporting the need for the 2020 rule, CLS also pushes back on the puzzling claim that the rule is burdensome. Particularly interesting is that the Department itself notes (as of its announcement last month) it hadn’t even received any complaints about violations under the rule yet. However, as CLS and others point out, what is burdensome is for students to have to protect themselves in court.
“Religious students don’t want to sue their colleges,” CLS states in an FAQ document. “They don’t want to spend their college years in litigation simply to obtain what should be a given: fair treatment at the public college they pay tuition to attend.”
Will you pray for these faith-based campus groups, especially the students who are blessed by them?
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Charles DeLoye on Unsplash.
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FATHER GOD I bind the lies of joe biden and his administration. I command that he cease and desist all maneuvers against the children of GOD in our nation! Let GOD arise in our hearts and mind as we stand for HIM in Victory in JESUS MIGHTY NAME!
Lord, God Jehovah Punish the perversity, treason, of the Biden Administration, visit the consequences of Biden’s actions on himself and his personal family.
Hoping and praying that the college students will seek Truth and trust God’s mercy and grace through all situations on and off campus. Perhaps verbally sharing while brushing through the holy bible will prevent “Truth” decay (like brushing our teach may help prevent tooth decay?) – so consider that Peter wrote about pagans wanting to normalize moral (and financial) profligacy but Christians will not plunge with them still into the same flood of selfish behavior (1 peter chapter 4 verses 3 – 11) and that God’s son will repair, recruit, and strengthen you to be humble plus love God and others with words and actions of tough love (1 peter chapter 5 verses 6 – 11) … and that the faith based christian students will encourage college (and all school students) to forth tell and proclaim the Trust of God’s Word (and bible)
in all they think, say, and do. I pray that because it only takes a spark to get a fire going that all students keep on improving a little bit each day to see God, His Son Jesus, and their Holy Spirit more clearly, love Them more dearly, and follow Them more nearly. Keep on keeping on reflecting the Lord’s light to illuminate His Truth and Faithfulness.
Thank you Lord for groups like Intervarsity, FCA, Cru. They were faithful at my secular university to share God’s word and Good news and I found the Gospel. Your kingdom is advanced by organizations such as these. Please protect the colleges, universities and high schools that benefit from these organizations. Allow them to flourish unhindered by the government and those organizations that disagree with them. Soften even the hardest hearts and allow your powerful Word and Kingdom to advance in these places. It is only through You that we stand and serve. Make your Kingdom known here Lord, at home and abroad. In your powerful Name, the Name of Jesus. Amen
Dearest Jesus, the college students who put their head on Your shoulder or heart are targeted because of their great love for You. Send MIGHTY ANGELS to be their foreguard, side guard rear, over and under guards as they move on campus and off ministering Your love in a dark world needing Your Spirit to contact their spirits. Again use the enemy tactics against them to snatch souls from bondage to set their spirits free all the way to their source. God sneaky arise! Your love never fails. We thank You for our children and grandchild’s protection.
Father in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we come before you and ask that you strengthen our young men and women in the colleges and universities, the young Daniel’s, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We ask, that they along with the saints’ pray for continued revival and that it begins to soak and soak and soak our nations and state capitols and change the hearts of our leaders. Father, we know that Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faithful and were not afraid to lay down their lives for you, perhaps, as it says in the Book of Esther 4:14
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”, they are here on planet earth, so as to be an example, and lead many who are captives, to the salvation and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. That they will actively pursue you Father and as they humble themselves and the rest of us joining with them and supporting them, continue to pray and “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Let the CHURCH ARISE and PRAY. Remember, “FOR THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL BUT MIGHTY IN GOD FOR PULLING DOWN “STRONGHOLDS. 2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV
To GOD Be the GLORY.
My savior King Jesus save these college schools Jesus wins in the END
Father God I lift up the students in collage to you. I ask peace and protection from your great and mighty hands. I ask for all demonic activity to flee from our governmental agencies that seek to ban our freedom to assemble and worship freely. And I praise you in advance for what you will do in the case