civil rights

Civil Rights Commission: Can Nondiscrimination, Religious Liberty Principles Coexist?

by Alex Murashko , Christian Post  |  published on March 25, 2013

The United States Commission on Civil Rights held a public briefing Friday in order to take a closer look at how the nation’s nondiscrimination principles are coexisting with those of religious liberty.

The half-day meeting between expert panelists and the commission reflected the divided sentiment in the country over such issues as the HHS mandate and college campus access for Christian fellowship groups, InterVarsity National Field Director for the Northeast Greg Jao told The Christian Post.

“It’s interesting how partisan and divided both the panel and commission seem to be, which really reflects the conversation we are having in the country about religious liberty,” said Jao, who attended the briefing. More than 17 different chapters of InterVarsity have sent in reports to the commission for review and 10 more chapters plan to do the same, he said.

“What we are experiencing on campus isn’t a marginal or small issue but actually a significant civil rights issue with national consequences,” he stressed. “We are at a place in our country where the angularity of our religious beliefs becomes not a distinctive thing that we should protect but instead it becomes a distraction.”

Over the last several years, some colleges have tried to, and in some cases successfully, implement policies that prohibit religious student groups from using religious criteria in leadership selection. The Civil Rights commission announced last month it would be holding the briefing focused on reconciling nondiscrimination policies with religious liberties.

Jao said that he is encouraged by the fact that the commission viewed the tension that Christian clubs are experiencing at college campuses as significant enough for it to take a serious look at the problem by holding a briefing and inviting public comment and panelists to submit expert opinions.

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