Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Religious Freedom at Public Universities

‘Public universities in 31 states have denied “rights, benefits, and privileges” to on-campus religious groups…’

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James Lankford/IMAGE: YouTube

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Three Republican Senators introduced the Equal Campus Access Act, a bill that would incentivize universities to allow religious student organizations to exercise their “faith-based principles.”

The ECAA would block funding to public universities that “deny rights, benefits, or privileges to student organizations because of their beliefs, practices, speech, leadership standards, or codes of conduct.”

James Lankford (OK), Roy Blunt (MO), and Tim Scott (SC) announced the bill on April 25.

“Our nation’s college campuses should respect the rights of religious student groups, just as they respect the rights of other groups, to select their own leaders who share their faith and mission,” Lankford said in a press release. “More and more we see free speech and free association restricted on college campuses, especially for religious speech and religious groups, but students do not have to forfeit their First Amendment rights of speech, religion, and association to attend a public college. The Equal Campus Access Act affirms the right of religious groups to choose their own leaders without government interference.”

The ECAA would combat the recent cases of discrimination against Christian student organizations.

“Students don’t give up their First Amendment rights when they step foot on a college campus,” Blunt said. “Over the past decade, there have been far too many incidents where universities excluded religious student groups because of their faith-based policies. Congress afforded similar protections to public high schools under the Equal Access Act and there is no reason it should not apply to higher education institutions.”

Lankford’s press release stated that public universities in 31 states have denied “rights, benefits, and privileges” to on-campus religious groups.

“If we’re not instilling the importance of the First Amendment in our nation’s colleges and universities, we’re doing our future an injustice,” Scott said.