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The ACLJ wrote a demand letter to the university and this week the university responded: The offending rule had been repealed and religious groups now have an equal opportunity to apply for and receive student activity fees.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

Helping to Spread the Good News of the Gospel

By Geoffrey Surtees1411415238000

Today, the American Center for Law & Justice filed a “friend of the court” brief with the United States Supreme Court in a First Amendment case of great importance: Reed v. Town of Gilbert . As explained below, the decision in this case will have enormous implications for the exercise of...

read more

Ninth Circuit Guts Student Free Speech

By David French1410975510000

This morning the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined a request for an en banc hearing in a case holding that school officials could censor students who peacefully wore American flag clothing because those students were violently threatened by anti-American classmates. In other words, the court...

read more

IRS Has 99 Problems; Church Ain’t One

By Matthew Clark1410893687000

The scandal plagued Obama Administration IRS admits that it has targeted 99 churches for additional scrutiny after settling a lawsuit with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The IRS settlement with the angry atheist group FFRF is shrouded in secrecy , but the little we do know is enough...

read more

Time for IRS Officials to Come Clean

By Jay Sekulow1410200736000

Another week, another stunning IRS revelation. Judicial Watch released emails last week showing that Holly Paz and Lois Lerner – two of the central figures responsible for the IRS’s systematic targeting of conservative groups – were discussing a “secret research project” apparently using...

read more