Search  |  Login  |  Register

Righting a Wrong at Wichita State

By David French1330117647000

When will school officials truly realize that religious speech is just as free, just as protected as political speech or any other form of speech? When will they finally realize that religious students are not second-class citizens, with their groups and activities subjected to greater scrutiny and greater restrictions than secular activities?

A few weeks ago, a student at Wichita State University contacted ACLJ and informed us that the university had enacted a student fee policy that explicitly discriminated against religious speech. Wichita State, like most public universities in the United States, requires its students to pay a student activity fee that funds student clubs. The only way it is legal to force students to fund clubs they may not like (for example, Republican students end up funding Democratic clubs, and pro-life students often fund pro-abortion clubs) is the funds must be distributed on a viewpoint neutral basis. In other words, I may have to fund groups I don’t like, but I can form my own group, and my group has an equal opportunity to be funded.

Wichita State forgot its obligation and enacted a rule prohibiting any funding for “non-scholarly religious activities.” Under this rule, other student groups could (and did) receive funding for a wide variety of non-scholarly activities, but religious groups faced a unique restriction. This rule clearly violated the constitution.

The ACLJ wrote a demand letter to the university and this week the university responded: The offending rule had been repealed and religious groups now have an equal opportunity to apply for and receive student activity fees.

We applaud the university for making the right decision so quickly and decisively, and we applaud our student client even more for spotting the discrimination and having the courage to contact us and fight back. The message to universities could not be clearer: Religious speech is not second-class speech, and religious students are not second-class citizens.

Latest in
Free Speech

Protecting Pro-Life Counselors

By Edward White1414613427989

When one thinks of those who prevent women from learning the truth about abortion, one generally thinks about Planned Parenthood, not the police. Yet, that is what’s happening in Fort Myers, Florida, prompting the filing of a lawsuit by the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ). This week the...

read more

Equal Access for Religious Speech

By Walter M. Weber1414432535648

The ACLJ has just filed a friend of the court brief in the seemingly endless battle to halt discrimination against churches in New York City. The case is Bronx Household of Faith v. The Board of Education of the City of New York . Our brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in the case...

read more

ACLJ Protecting Religious Speech

By Edward White1414428876769

One of the many important things we do at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is to ensure that people can spread the Gospel without unconstitutional interference by the government. This past week we filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court on behalf of Joseph Paolella against the...

read more

Road Block in the Way of Justice

By Matthew Clark1414174262103

The fight for justice is never the easy road, and it doesn’t always win the first round. Yesterday a federal district court dismissed two lawsuits (at least a majority of the claims) brought on behalf of conservative groups who were targeted by the IRS. Unfortunately, the court’s ruling is based on...

read more