US Catholic Bishops Advocate for Religious Freedom on College Campuses

USCCB Advocates for Religious Freedom on College Campuses

On Thursday, USCCB filed comments with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) opposing the Department’s proposal to rescind regulations that protect the religious freedom of individual students and religious student organizations on public college campuses.

The regulation that the Department intends to rescind, also known as the “Religious Liberty & Free Inquiry Rule” or "Equal Campus Access" provisions, among other things, requires public universities that receive certain grants from USDE to treat faith-based student organizations equally with secular student organizations and allows faith-based student groups to require their members and leaders to subscribe to the tenets of the faith.

The USCCB has asked that the Department preserve the current regulations because they provide commonsense protection for faith-based student organizations that have faced discrimination on many public college campuses for nearly four decades.

Because permanent statutory protections are also needed, last week Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, also joined a letter to members of Congress in support of the “Equal Campus Access Act of 2023.” This legislation would “provide critical protection for faith-based student organizations of all religious traditions…[and] ensure that such groups will be allowed to meet on campuses nationwide, providing authentic faith communities where students can find belonging, and enabling them to freely discuss, live out and share their religious ideas and values.”

The USCCB’s complete comments on the proposed rescission are here, and the coalition letter to members of Congress is here. For more information on the USCCB’s advocacy with the USDE on Equal Campus Access, visit our “Do No Harm” webpage.