Secular students testify against “right to discriminate” law in Missouri

On January 8, Hannah Kelly introduced House Bill 1926 in the State of Missouri. If passed Missouri would join thirteen states who have passed what American Atheists describe as campus “license to discriminate laws.” States with existing laws include; Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Religious student organizations would be allowed to bar leadership roles based on student’s compliance with the association’s sincere religious practice requirements.

The bill is concerned with religious student organizations and their leaders. The bill establishes legal recourse if a religious student organization decides to remove a member of leadership for their failure to “comply with the association’s sincere religious standards of conduct, or be committed to furthering the association’s religious missions as such beliefs, requirements, standards, or missions are defined by the association or religion upon which the association is based.” 

L to R: Samati Niyomchai with PROMO, Dalton McCart and Abilene Mosher with SSA, and Chad McLaurin with Secularus

With the support of American Atheists, PROMO, and the ACLU two brave Secular Student Alliance students, Dalton McCart and Abilene Mosher, testified* in front of the Special Committee for Career Readiness in opposition to HB 1926. 

Dalton testified that:

“Though this bill may read as if it is proposing equal rights for groups to express their sincerely held beliefs, it does not bring religious student organizations into equal standing with other groups—both already receive equal benefits. Rather, HB 1926 will give religious campus organizations the special privilege to discriminate. Indeed, this has already been demonstrated by the Supreme Court’s ruling (Christian Legal Society v Martinez, 2010) that “all-comer” policies are viewpoint neutral. That is, these groups will only gain special rights to break university policy and support a harmful university culture.”

Here at the Secular Student Alliance, we will continue to work to support our students as they challenge unfair attacks on the separation of religion and government.

* View Dalton and Abilene’s testimony here (Dalton starts at 1:56:45 and Abilene at 2:16:30)

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