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Activist Group Seeks To Strip Christian Colleges Of Religious-Based Exemptions That Protect Their Faith

A group of LGBTQ activists has filed a federal lawsuit that could force private Christian colleges to sacrifice federal student aid unless they sacrifice their beliefs on the altar of political wokeness.

The Portland-based Religious Exemption Accountability Project represents 33 students who claim they have been discriminated against at religious schools.

In essence, they all attended Christian schools, and are now suing because those colleges remained Christian.

A religious-liberty legal aid organization has responded by asking the judge to allow it to defend the colleges.

The defendants are actually the U.S. Department of Education and some of its officials, which, the lawsuit argues, are complicit “in the abuses and unsafe conditions thousands of LGBTQ+ students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded, religious colleges and universities.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers claim they speak for 100,000 students who attend “taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities that openly discriminate against them in both policy and practice.”

The schools in question include some that are well known, such as Baylor and Brigham Young. They also include some that are overtly fundamentalist Christian, such as Liberty University and Bob Jones University.

Most are tiny colleges few have heard of, such as Dordt University in Iowa or Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. A couple were even seminaries.

But, according to the lawsuit, whatever or wherever they are, the schools have a common trait: they are guilty of the “oppression, fueled by government funding, and unrestrained by government intervention, (that) persists with injurious consequences to mind, body, and soul.”

“The Department’s inaction leaves students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment, as well as the less visible, but no less damaging, consequences of institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness,” the lawsuit says.

“When taxpayer-funded religious institutions require sexual and gender minority students to hide their identity out of fear, or to behave contrary to their fundamental sexual or gender identity, the unsurprising consequences are intense pain, loneliness and self-harm.

The plaintiffs want the government to strip these schools of religious exemptions under Title IX that allow them to teach and practice their faith.

In one paragraph, the plaintiffs argue, “The religious exemption to Title IX does not serve a secular legislative purpose.”

Exactly, because it serves a religious purpose under the First Amendment.

In addition to the end of Title IX protections, the plaintiffs demand that the department “ensure that all federally-funded educational institutions respect the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of their students.”

In other words, they want the schools to adapt to their minority status instead of accepting the beliefs of a school that they freely applied for and enrolled in.

While the lawsuit offers details of the alleged discrimination each student experienced, it does not seem to answer the overarching question of why the plaintiffs chose schools with Christian-based philosophies or policies that conflicted with their own LGBTQ identity.

On Monday, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty group, said in a statement that it has requested permission to enter the case on behalf of the colleges.

“If successful, college students would be forbidden from using their federal tuition assistance at schools that proclaim widely held religious teachings on marriage, gender, and sexuality,” the ADF said.

“In other words, any Christian university that has a code of conduct prohibiting sex outside of marriage or that protects fairness in sports by declining to let biological males compete on women’s sports teams could lose federal student aid.”

The ADF noted that religious colleges seek to fulfill the faith they proclaim, and that students traditionally attend them to do likewise. But all that is threatened by this “radical request to rewrite federal law to target religious colleges.”

“Punishing people and institutions of faith because they exercise their religious beliefs is unconstitutional. And that’s why this lawsuit should concern every American,” said the ADF.

“All these schools ask is for the right to operate consistently with their beliefs—the very beliefs that inspire everything they do. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. After all, the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect this very right.”

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