Regulations guaranteeing freedom of religion and speech for students and teachers in American universities and colleges, have been published by the US Department of Education.
Under the new policy, Christian student organisations and other religious societies will have their “sincerely held religious beliefs” protected.
Public universities and colleges may also lose federal funding if they deny such groups the “benefits, rights, and privileges” enjoyed by other student bodies.
Discrimination to end
US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said: “Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education”.
The regulations “require private colleges and universities that promise their students and faculty free expression, free inquiry, and diversity of thought to live up to those ideals”.
They also ensure “equal treatment of religious student organizations at public colleges and universities”.
The policy states that student faith groups cannot be ‘kicked off’ campus “because of their beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards”.
In the past, groups run by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVFC) have been ‘derecognized’ by some universities for requiring student leaders to sign its statement of faith .
In 2019, IVCF successfully overturned a decision by the University of Iowa to remove their campus recognition because the Christian organisation insisted that leaders of its student groups be practising Christians.
An InterVarsity spokesman said at the time: “We must have leaders who share our faith”, adding: “No group—religious or secular—could survive with leaders who reject its values.”
IVCF seeks to “draw students to Jesus as Savior and Lord”, “teach students to respond to God’s Word” and encourage them “to make disciples through living, leading and teaching a life of discipleship in following Jesus”.