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Kansas House Advances Campus Religious Freedom Bill

A debate in the Kansas House chamber. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

The Kansas House has advanced a bill that supporters say protects religious organizations at colleges. Proponents of the so-called campus religious freedom bill say it protects student groups from being forced by universities to allow anyone to join. Republican Representative Joseph Scapa supports the bill.

“Religious Groups should be free to require their members and leaders to share the group’s faith. That’s the entire point of having the group,” says Scapa.

Democratic Representative Annie Tietze says this bill would allow student groups receiving state tax dollars to discriminate. She says students have a right to form private groups -- those not sanctioned by the school -- that limit membership.

“But they do not have a right to receive public funding. The First Amendment does not require the rest of us to pay for discriminatory behavior,” says Tietze.

The bill won first-round approval on a vote of 80-39. It will likely be up for a final vote in the House Wednesday.

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