UC Davis withdraws religious discrimination description after Christian group protests


After protests from a student group, the University of California at Davis has withdrawn a school policy that implied Christians were the only perpetrators of “religious discrimination” in the U.S.

The university's Office of Campus Relations issued a “Principles of Community Glossary” that defined “religious/spiritual discrimination” as “(t)he 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.”

The Alliance Defense Fund – a Christian legal alliance – reported that affiliated attorney Timothy J. Swickard wrote the university on Feb. 16 on behalf of 25 students who found policy offensive. UC Davis responded the same day, stating that the student's concerns were noted and that the language was removed until further consideration.

In his letter to the school, Swickard argued that it was “patently clear” that UC Davis’s definition of religious discrimination was “blatantly unconstitutional” under both the Federal and California State Constitutions.

“The policy singles out certain faiths for official school protection from discrimination while denying the same protection to others solely on the basis of their particular religious views,” he wrote.

Citing research, Swickard called the policy “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.”

CU Davis’ Associate Executive Vice-Chancellor Rahim Reed said that the webpage containing the glossary “has been taken down to permit further review of the terms used there and their continuing utility.”

Reed also said that because the religious discrimination definition “is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community,” if the glossary returns, “this definition will be appropriately revised.”

The associate vice-chancellor went on to say that the “Principles of Community are not University policy” but “an aspiration to each member of our campus to strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based upon mutual respect and caring.”

Swickard released a statement on Feb. 17, praising the university’s “prompt and forthright response.”

“We greatly look forward to UC Davis’s newly stated community aspiration to protect all students – including Christian students – from unlawful discrimination on campus,” he said.

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