Notes on taxpayer funded efforts to suppress academic religious freedom

Rob Jenkins:

Despite a couple of recent, high-profile legal victories for religious freedom, the Biden administration is not abandoning its attacks on faith-based organizations—including religious colleges and universities, as well as religious groups on public campuses. Quite the contrary. The administration, undeterred, continues its long-term strategy of whittling away at religious liberties rather than confronting them head-on.

Before we explore that strategy, let’s first take a moment to celebrate the wins. For those of us engaged in this battle, who often feel like we’re fighting a rearguard action against an overwhelming foe, it’s important to recognize that we are not, in fact, always losing. The courts, at least, appear to be on our side—for now.

Our most notable recent victory, perhaps, is the dismissal, in January, of a lawsuit against the Department of Education claiming religious exemptions to Title IX are “unconstitutional.” The suit, filed in Oregon by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, on behalf of more than 40 plaintiffs, accused several Christian colleges of “discriminating” against “LGBTQ+” individuals.

One might think the Biden administration would give up trying to foist its agenda on religious organizations.

In her decision, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken upheld the exemption because, she said, it is “substantially related to the government’s objective of accommodating religious exercise.” She also rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that the policy runs afoul of the equal protection and establishment clauses in the U.S. Constitution.

Another case involved Brigham Young University, which was being investigated for Title IX violations after several “LGBTQ+” students there complained of discrimination. The DOE dropped its investigation last year, reaffirming BYU’s longstanding religious exemption from “various Title IX provisions to the extent that application of these provisions is not consistent with the religious tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ [of Latter-day Saints] ‘that pertain to sexual orientation and gender identity.’”