The Biden administration is threatening to excise the religious rights of students on campus installed by the Trump administration.
Under Trump, colleges and universities were prohibited from restricting religious student group activities; if they did, their federal funding would end. Now the Biden administration is seeking to overturn this rule, allowing institutions of higher education to return to their censorial ways.
The Department of Education (DOE), under Secretary Miguel Cardona, said that beginning February 22, the public would have 30 days to comment on the proposal to nix the Trump initiative. The DOE says that “it is not necessary in order to protect the First Amendment right to free speech and free exercise of religion given existing legal protections.” It also says the policy is “unduly burdensome.”
Both of these statements are manifestly false. It was precisely because the religious rights of students were not protected on campus that the previous administration was beckoned to act. Moreover, it is risible for an administration that is regulation-happy to start worrying about rules that are “unduly burdensome.”
When it comes to the rights of LGBT students, the Biden administration says we can’t have enough protections. Why, then, when it comes to the rights of religious students is it deemed they have enough rights?
A few years ago, Princeton professor and Catholic League board of advisor Robert P. George noted, “There is an antipathy, sometimes an open hostility to religion” on campus. George speaks with authority: he is a former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In 2019, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ Presidents Conference, a network of over 180 Christian colleges worldwide, registered their concerns about the religious rights of students. Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college, said, “The standard western narrative of progress has assumed that deeply held religious beliefs, especially when there is diversity in those beliefs, result in intolerance, conflict, violence, oppression.”
There certainly is no shortage of examples of religious students being badgered on campus. Courses, lectures and workshops abound on the prevalence of alleged “Christian privilege,” a term used to bash Christians, especially male heterosexuals.
It is because of this poisonous milieu, where religious students are treated as outcasts, if not the enemy, that their rights on campus merited protections from the previous administration. The Biden administration wants to eviscerate those rights.
To read our report on the plight of religious students on campus, see pp. 4-5.
On February 28, we issued a news release informing our subscribers how they could register their objections with the Biden administration.