(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Tim Scott (R.-S.C.) joined Sen. James Lankford (R.-Okla.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) on Thursday in introducing the “Equal Campus Act,” a bill that would prohibit federal funding of public institutions of higher learning that discriminate against faith-based student groups
The text of the bill, which would amend a law that authorizes the federal government to provide funding to institutions of higher learning, says:
“None of the funds made available under this Act may be provided to any public institution of higher education that denies to a religious student organization any right, benefit, or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student organizations at the institution (including full access to the facilities of the institution and official recognition of the organization by the institution) because of the religious beliefs, practices, speech, leadership standards, or standards of conduct of the religious student organization.’
Scott emphasized the importance of protecting the First Amendment rights of religious student groups.
“If we’re not instilling the importance of the First Amendment in our nation’s colleges and universities, we’re doing our future an injustice,” Scott said.
“Too many public institutions of higher learning are silencing the voices of faith-based student groups and I am proud to stand with my colleagues to stand up for the First Amendment,” he said. “Freedom of speech isn’t just a nice saying—it’s a core American ideal.”
“Our nation’s college campuses should respect the rights of religious student groups, just as they respect the rights of other groups, to select their own leaders who share their faith and mission,” Lankford said.
“More and more we see free speech and free association restricted on college campuses, especially for religious speech and religious groups, but students do not have to forfeit their First Amendment rights of speech, religion, and association to attend a public college,” he said. “The Equal Campus Access Act affirms the right of religious groups to choose their own leaders without government interference.”
“Too many public institutions of higher learning are silencing the voices of faith-based student groups,” Lankford said.
“Students don’t give up their First Amendment rights when they step foot on a college campus,” said Blunt.
“Over the past decade, there have been far too many incidents where universities excluded religious student groups because of their faith-based policies,” Blunt said. “This bill ensures faith-based student groups have the same rights and protections as other student organizations. Congress afforded similar protections to public high schools under the Equal Access Act and there is no reason it should not apply to higher education institutions.”