BLOGAt UC Davis, a Deplorable Action and a Fast Retraction

By Alan Sears Posted on: | March 01, 2011

When you hear the words “religious discrimination,” you probably think of someone being ignored, misused, or abused on account of their faith – not their lack of faith.

UC DavisBut, of course, in California – and particularly, leftist academic California – they see things differently.  Which is how the University of California at Davis came up with an official campus policy that defines religious discrimination as:

“The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion.  In the United States, this is institutionalized oppression toward those who are not Christian.”

That’s quite an assumption, in a country where, according to one recent study of more than 1,200 faculty at public universities, 53 percent of professors admitted to having negative feelings about evangelical students solely because of their religious beliefs. (Mormons and Catholic students weren’t looked on too fondly, either.) A 2004 Harvard Institute of Politics poll indicated that only 35 percent of college students call themselves “born again,” while only 22 percent identify as evangelical Christians. A 2000 study of teens by the Barna Research Group found that only 26 percent claim to be “committed to the Christian faith.”

“These are not statistics of dominance,” said ADF-allied attorney Tim Swickard (one of nearly 1,900 attorneys in the ADF alliance) in a letter sent February 17to UC Davis officials on behalf of more than 25 students who object to the policy. “The policy is simply nonsensical, given the environment on most university campuses where Christian students, if anything, are among the most likely to be subjected to discrimination because of their faith.”

“It is patently clear,” Swickard added, “that UC Davis’s definition of religious discrimination is blatantly unconstitutional under both the federal and California State Constitutions. The policy singles out some faiths for official school protection while denying the same protection to others solely on the basis of their particular religious views.”

Thanks be to God, the UC Davis response was swift and contrite; university officials agreed that same day to either revise or eliminate the problematic definition. They took down the webpage containing that definition “to permit further review of the terms used there and their continuing utility,” because, in their words, the religious discrimination definition “is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community.”

“Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus,” says ADF Senior Counsel David French. “Anti-Christian discrimination is epidemic on American university campuses, and we wish that more universities would be as proactive in addressing such concerns as UC-Davis has been here.”

Please join me in praying for exactly that kind of “proactive” attitude among America’s university administrators – and in praying, too, for those Christian students still facing even more hostile campus environments.

Alan Sears

Founder

Alan Sears serves as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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