Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kansas Law Allows Campus Religious Groups to Restrict Membership

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kansas Law Allows Campus Religious Groups to Restrict Membership

Article excerpt

WICHITA, Kan. - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation Tuesday that will enable campus religious groups to restrict their membership to students that adhere to a religion's tenets.

Opponents say SB 175, which the governor signed at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon, will enable discrimination to take place on publicly funded college campuses, but supporters say it offers religious groups needed protections at universities.

"Religious liberty is a part of the essence of who we are as a nation and state," said Mr. Brownback, who was joined in his office by lawmakers and lobbyists for the Kansas Catholic Conference and the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas.

"Critics of the bill believe that it makes it easier for student organizations to discriminate, but that is inaccurate," he said. "The bill only allows religious organizations to establish religious beliefs as qualification for membership. It does not cover all organizations for any and all membership requirements."

The bill prohibits public universities from taking punitive actions against groups that require members or leaders to adhere to the group's religious beliefs or "comply with the association's sincere religious standards of conduct. …

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