More than two dozen Christian students at the University of California at Davis have filed a formal complaint over a university policy that defines religious discrimination as Christians oppressing non-Christians.
The definition is listed in a document called, “The Principles of Community.” It defines “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” as “The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”
“This is radical political correctness run amok,” said David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. The conservative advocacy group has written a letter on behalf of more than 25 students who object to the policy and want it revised. He said it’s absurd to single out Christians as oppressors and non-Christians as the only oppressed people on campus.
A spokesperson for UC-Davis directed comments about “The Principles of Community” to Raheem Reed, an associate executive vice chancellor. Reed did not return numerous phone calls.
“Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus,” French told Fox News Radio. “The idea that a university would discriminate against Christians is a very old story, unfortunately, and one that we see played out every day.”
One student, who asked not to be identified, said university officials asked her to reaffirm “The Principles of Community” last semester. She refused to do so when she realized that Christians were not protected under the policy.
“To have a non-discrimination policy that excludes the Christian faith is a cause for action,” she said. “In higher academia, one would hope that a diversity of ideas and beliefs would be appreciated. But my experience has been that this has not always been the case. There is a real fear of academic bias against the Christian faith.”
French said all of the students who complained are fearful of backlash if their identities became known.
“This was amazing to actually enshrine in your non-discrimination statement – discrimination against Christians,” he said. “This is a symbol of the seeming impunity in which universities violate the law to establish a radical, secular-left agenda.”
Alan Brownstein, a law professor at UC-Davis, said the campus has a generally open and tolerant view of religion. “It’s a university campus,” he said. “There is robust debate and people will disagree on just about everything.”
Brownstein, who is a nationally known constitutional scholar, said any legal challenges to the policy would depend on whether or not it’s a binding document.
“Clearly, if you had an enforceable regulatory policy that said, ‘we will discipline Christians who oppress non-Christians, but we will not impose the same kind of disciplinary sanctions on non-Christians who engage in the same kind of harassing behavior against Christians,’ that would be unacceptable and subject to legal challenge.”
Regardless, Brownstein said it might have been more appropriate to use less-specific language in the policy.
“It’s always preferable to be as general as you can when you describe these kinds of unacceptable behaviors,” he said.