At the end of March, an LGBT activist group sued the U.S. Department of Education, demanding that a key religious exemption be taken away from faith-based schools.
If successful, college students would be forbidden from using their federal tuition assistance at schools that proclaim widely held religious teachings on marriage, gender, and sexuality. In other words, any Christian university that has a code of conduct prohibiting sex outside of marriage or that protects fairness in sports by declining to let biological males compete on women’s sports teams could lose federal student aid.
That’s why ADF has moved to intervene in this lawsuit to defend these faith-based colleges and universities—and the students they serve.
Punishing people and institutions of faith because they exercise their religious beliefs is unconstitutional. And that’s why this lawsuit should concern every American.
The fact is that religious colleges and universities are motivated by their faith in everything they do. It motivates them to provide their students with an excellent education. It motivates them to serve their surrounding communities. It motivates them to hire employees that will partner with them in their religious mission.
On top of that, students who attend religious schools largely do so because they wish to attend schools that share and support their beliefs. If students lose federal aid simply because they decide to attend a religious school, hundreds of thousands of them nationwide would be forced to make a choice: lose their student aid or attend a different school altogether.
All these schools ask is for the right to operate consistently with their beliefs—the very beliefs that inspire everything they do.
That shouldn’t be too much to ask. After all, the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect this very right.
But this lawsuit would change all that. Religious schools would face the impossible choice of losing students who would be denied needed federal financial assistance or abandoning their beliefs. And it would slam the door of opportunity in the face of students who want to pursue higher education at colleges and universities that share their faith.
No court should grant a radical request to rewrite federal law to target religious colleges by stripping them, and their students, of much-needed financial aid. If this lawsuit is successful, it will be the students who suffer the consequences.