Scott, Lankford Challenge Biden’s Unconstitutional Attack Against Religious Student Groups
WASHINGTON – Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) along with Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and their colleagues introduced the Equal Campus Access Act of 2023 to ensure that religious student organizations will not face discrimination on college campuses.
“Too many public institutions of higher learning are silencing the voices of faith-based student groups, and I am proud to join my colleagues in standing up for the First Amendment. Freedom of speech isn’t just a nice idea —it’s a core American ideal,” said Scott.
“On America’s college campuses, freedom of expression is under attack. Colleges need to remain an open arena for debate, discussion—and most importantly—faith. It is shameful that the Biden Administration is working to eliminate a rule that guarantees religious student organizations are not denied recognition, funding or any other rights that secular groups receive. We must ensure that our nation’s public colleges and universities are truly neutral toward all religious student organizations,” said Lankford.
“Over the past few years, we have seen a concerning increase of incidents on college campuses where free speech and free association of students has been restricted due to religious beliefs. We should strive to reaffirm diverse theological beliefs and solidify religious freedom rather than encouraging discrimination. Students should not have to give up their First Amendment rights of speech, religion, and association to attend a public college, and this piece of legislation will ensure that these religious groups are afforded the same rights and protections as other student organizations,” said Walberg.
Scott, Lankford, and Walberg are joined on this legislation by Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
The Members are supported on this legislation by Cru, Christian Legal Society, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA), National Association of Evangelicals, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Coalition for Jewish Values, Religious Freedom Institute, Seventh-day Adventist Church—North American Division, Reformed University Fellowship, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), Concerned Women for America LAC, 1st Amendment Partnership, ReJOYce in Jesus Campus Fellowship, FOCUS, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Coptic Medical Association of North America (CMANA), Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society/Asian American Christian Fellowship, The Impact Movement, Inc., American Principles Project, Sigma Alpha Omega Christian Sorority, Inc, Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Kansas Family Voice, The FAMiLY Leader, Association of Christian Schools International, Queens Federation of Churches, Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), Michigan Catholic Conference, US Navigators, Young Life, and Catholic Medical Association.
Following the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to roll back protections for religious student organizations, Scott and Lankford also led a public comment letter to urge the Department of Education to reverse course and instead keep the Religious Liberty and Free Inquiry Rule in place. When the rule was initially rumored to be rescinded, Scott and Lankford wrote to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to urge him to retain the rule.
Scott and Lankford were joined on the letter by Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kansas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.),Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).