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​College Religious Freedom Act Spurs Debate at Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union says a Kansas bill on religious student organizations would allow discrimination on campus. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee considered a bill Monday that would prevent universities and colleges from denying benefits to religious student organizations based on their membership policies. The bill would allow religious student organizations to require their members to comply with the associations' sincerely held religious beliefs. Supporters said this would protect religious organizations from being pushed off campus. But ACLU Executive Director for Kansas Micah Kubic testified that the bill would allow student groups to have discriminatory policies and still receive public funds. Republican Representative Stephanie Clayton from Overland Park expressed concerns that the bill was too broad and could be widely interpreted.

earlier today, the Kansas Information Network filed a report on what was (at the time) the upcoming debate: 

Lawmakers in Topeka will debate a bill today that that would prohibit public college and university officials from forcing campus religious organizations to accept all applicants for membership. Supporters say the bill would block any policies requiring the groups to accept members who don’t agree with their beliefs or policies. The legislation passed the Senate late last week. Republican State Senator Greg Smith says religious groups have the right to reject people with different beliefs.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Legal Society are expected to testify at the House committee hearing today. The Christian Legal Society requires its members to sign a statement affirming their belief in strict Christian tenets, and does not admit students who engage in "homosexual conduct.”  The ACLU of Kansas says the groups are free to admit or exclude whomever they want but they don’t have a right to be publicly funded if they operate in a discriminatory manner.


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