Written by Don Byrd
Idaho has joined the growing list of states concerned about religious affiliation policies on university campuses. A bill that protects the right of religious organizations to determine membership based on religious belief and affiliation passed the State Senate yesterday 30-5. Concern that Boise State University was implementing an all-comers policy – requiring all groups to allow all interested students as members – seems to have led to this legislative effort.

[A] string of former and current Boise State students stood before the [State Affairs] committee, each of them a member of faith-based organizations that they said had been restricted by the university.

“It became apparent we would not be recognized by Boise State because our officers were required to believe,” said Boise State student Justin Ranger.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that all-comers policies barring discrimination at state universities are constitutional. That doesn’t mean they are required, however. Several states since 2010 have pursued legislation to disallow such policies – including most recently Tennessee and Virginia.

Prior to that Supreme Court decision (in CLS v. Martinez), I interviewed Holly Hollman, who talked about why the Baptist Joint Committee supported the right of religious groups at publicly-funded universities to set membership criteria based on religious belief.