South Carolina Pols In Battle With Colleges Over Religion

| by Ethan Brown
Rep. Jeff Duncan.Rep. Jeff Duncan.

High-ranked Republican politicians in South Carolina are asking the state's colleges and universities not to interfere with religious groups on their campuses.

In 2014, a Christian fellowship organization on the campuses of California State University was punished for not eliminating a requirement that leaders of the organization sign a statement affirming their Christian beliefs.  At Cal State, university policies state that groups like this, which benefit from the different locations, use of facilities and student involvement events on campus, are not allowed to discriminate against members who may want to be elected to a leadership position within the organization but refuse to sign anything stating their beliefs.

Now, all six members of the House of Representatives, along with the state's two U.S. senators, have sent letters to the presidents of the 86 academic institutions in North Carolina, hoping to prevent this type of issue in their own state.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican, stated he didn't know of any incidents on any of the South Carolina university campuses that were like those of Cal State. He said he wanted to bring attention to the issue in his home state to try to prevent similar situations.

"The actions in California are deeply troubling, and it's important for us to speak up now before other academic institutions may be tempted to follow suit."

The issue with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, the organization from Cal State that started the controversy, did not involve accepting or refusing membership to any interested applicants. The problem was that the fellowship went against university rules by refusing to sign a non-discrimination policy for leadership elections. In other words, the university's policy says a non-Christian could apply to be the leader of the Christian fellowship if he or she chose to do so, while a Christian could run for the presidency of a non-Christian group.

Cal State did not ban Inter-Varsity from from its campuses. A statement from the university said: "Organizations are free to hold candidate forums or debates, and students are free to vote for candidates who best represent their views."

Sources: WLBG, The State Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via