“Choose between your faith and your education.”

That’s what some public universities have been telling their students. Seventy-one percent of public university professors surveyed in 2007 said this country would be better off if Evangelical Christians kept their opinions out of the public square. Over half (53%) of those same professors stated that they feel unfavorable toward Evangelical Christians, in contrast to 73% with favorable feelings towards Jews and 68% with favorable feelings toward Buddhists.

It’s not surprising then, that attacks on religious liberty are particularly common on public university campuses. Some professors and university leaders tout intellectual diversity, while ideas are stifled because they are unpopular or not “politically correct.”

These incidents are occurring across the country, including right here in Arizona. That’s why CAP is supporting HB 2565, which ensures that universities and community colleges do not infringe on the rights of students to practice their sincerely held religious beliefs.

In a Senate Education Committee hearing on Tuesday, ASU graduate Bethany Miller testified about her personal experience of religious discrimination. Here’s what Bethany had to say:

Other examples abound – like when a student at Los Angeles Community College delivered a speech in a public speaking class for an open-ended assignment about his faith and read the dictionary definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. His professor called the student a name, refused to grade his paper, and told the student to “ask God” for his grade.

In 2006, a student enrolled in a program at Eastern Michigan University that would allow her to serve her community as a high school counselor. In spite of earning straight A’s in her curriculum, the student was expelled for refusing to counsel a client about goals that violated her religious beliefs, even though she consulted with her professor and referred the client to another counselor.

We are pleased that Arizona’s three public universities have agreed to HB 2565 and that ASU President Michael Crowe has recently lauded the importance of religious student groups on campus.

University students should not be forced to make the choice between getting an education and following their religious beliefs, and HB 2565 ensures that for Arizona students.

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