YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio joined other states in a letter to President Joe Biden to keep protections offered to religious groups at public universities.
Right now, universities have to treat religious groups the same as any other student organization when it comes to rights, benefits and privileges. If they don’t, the university could lose federal funding. It was a Trump Administration provision.
Now, the Biden Administration is looking at rescinding the rule, according to Ohio Attorney General David Yost.
Groups supporting rolling back the provision say the rule could require universities to allow religious groups that discriminate against other groups. Biden has called the rule confusing, according to Yost.
Yost said removing the rule, “would conflict with Supreme Court rulings forbidding the government from weaponizing the government against religion.”
Nasser H. Paydarm assistant secretary, postsecondary education, said the U.S. Department of Education began looking at the rule in September 2021 and then issued a recommendation in February 2023 to rescind a portion of the regulation related to religious student organizations because the Department believes it is not necessary in order to protect the First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise o religion given existing legal protections.”
Father Norbert Keliher, chaplain of The Catholic Penguins, a religious group at Youngstown State University, said the protection in the rule is needed.
“In the current strained climate around free speech on college campuses, extra protection for religious student organizations is necessary,” he said. “It is too easy for well-intentioned supporters of diversity to confuse deeply held and reasonable beliefs of religious groups with intolerance. As the Chaplain of the Catholic Penguins at YSU, I support the effort by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and other state attorneys to oppose the overturning of the 2020 rule that affords extra protection.”