University defines Christians as 'oppressors' Legal team challenges UC-Davis' 'authorization' of discrimination
The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal team that defends civil and religious rights, has sent officials at the University of California-Davis a letter challenging what it calls "invidious discrimination" against Christians on the school website.
It is on the page for the Office of Campus Community Relations where the school has targeted Christians in its explanation of "Religious/Spiritual Discrimination."
The school defines religious discrimination as the "loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture's religion."
The statement singles out Christians for discrimination by stating, "In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian."
That's a violation the Constitution, the ADF contends.
"Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus," said ADF Senior Counsel David French. "It's ridiculously absurd to single out Christians as oppressors and non-Christians as the only oppressed people on campus when the facts show that public universities are more hostile to Christians than anyone else."
School spokesman Rahid Reed told WND the school agreed with the ADF that the definition was inappropriate. He said the link was being made inactive by the school, and the definitions were being reviewed.
"This is not the definition of spiritual discrimination that we want on our website," he said. "That has been taken down. That link to the whole glossary section."
He also said the "definition" was not the same as "policy" and blamed it on people who created it "seven or eight years" ago.
"This probably is something we should have taken a look at closely," he said.
The letter, from ADF-allied attorney Tim Swickard, explained, "It is patently clear that UC Davis's definition of religious discrimination is blatantly unconstitutional under both the federal and California state constitutions. The policy singles out some faiths for official school protection while denying the same protection to others solely on the basis of their particular religious views. ... Moreover, the UC Davis policy is simply nonsensical given the environment on most university campuses where Christian students, if anything, are among the most likely to be subjected to discrimination because of their faith."
UC-Davis policy targeting Christians
Cited by the ADF was a study published in Jewish Research that documented answers from more than 1,200 faculty members at public universities. Many professors admitted to having a "significant bias" against Christian students.
The letter said "53 percent admitted to having negative feelings about evangelical students solely because of their religious beliefs. … And Mormon and Catholic students did not fare much better.
"It is in contradiction to established fact to suggest, as this definition does, that Christianity is 'the dominant culture's religion' at any public university … Then candidate Obama asserted that 'Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation,'" the letter said.
"Whatever the merit of this claim, it is nonsense to think that Christianity is 'dominant' on any public university campus – UC Davis included."
The letter noted that there have been concerns expressed already by dozens of students, but they wished to remain anonymous because of the formalized discrimination authorized against them.
"As Mr. Reed is aware, this is not the first time that a Christian student has written to him about the climate of discrimination at UC Davis and requesting that his office work to provide protections for Christian students of the kind that the OCCR provides to others," the letter continued. "It appears that Mr. Reed not only failed to take these concerns seriously, but even approved a U.C. Davis-wide policy of sanctioning discrimination against Christian students as evidenced by the definition of 'religious/spiritual discrimination' on his own office's website.
"The outright exclusion of Christian students from UC Davis's policy is unconstitutional. Therefore, I ask that you immediately revise the definition of 'religious/spiritual discrimination' so that UC Davis's protections also apply to Christian students," Swickard's letter explained.
"As my clients are presently exposed to invidious discrimination at UC Davis solely because of their religious beliefs, I ask that no later than Wednesday, February 23 you confirm this change and undertake appropriate educational efforts to ensure that UC Davis faculty and staff are informed that the school's policies also protect Christian students from discrimination."
Swickard said the UC Davis policy as it was posted, "while purporting to prohibit religious discrimination broadly, actually exempts Christians from its coverage.
"Under this definition it would be an affirmative defense to a charge of religious discrimination for the perpetrator to demonstrate that the victim was a Christian. Students have recently been asked to reaffirm their commitment to the 'Principles of Community,' which includes in its glossary the definition 'Religious/Spiritual Discrimination' noted above. Thus, in reaffirming their commitment to the 'Principles of Community, U.C. Davis students have agreed to discriminate only against Christians."
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