Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has signed a bill into law that affirms the rights of religious groups on college campuses. The law passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, giving faith-based clubs the right to require leadership to agree to its religious beliefs and standards of conduct.
“College students deserve the right to freely organize around shared and sincere religious beliefs,” stated Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “The freedom to have belief-based requirements for group leaders is a necessary part of ensuring that a pluralistic and diverse culture can exist on campus.”
The law was introduced by Republican state Sen. Curt McKenzie to keep schools from adopting policies that single out Christian clubs. Those policies leave open the possibility of students with opposing viewpoints taking over the leadership of a Christian club and changing its course.
Virginia and Ohio already have laws protecting Christian student groups. Tennessee and Kansas are considering similar legislation.
“Unfortunately for the freedom of religion on campus, the Supreme Court in 2010 approved a liberal California university’s imposition of a First-Amendment-destroying ‘all-comers’ policy requiring all clubs to accept all applicants, even for leadership,” stated CitizenLink legal analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “Since then, we’ve seen other public, as well as private colleges, adopt similar policies in order to silence religion on campus. However, state legislatures across the country, like Idaho, are fighting back and guaranteeing young men and women the freedom to join with others of like mind on campus.”