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Kansas House Advances Campus Religious Freedom Bill

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Stephen Koranda
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KPR/File photo

The Kansas House has advanced a bill that supporters say protects religious organizations at colleges. Proponents of the so-called campus religious freedom bill say it protects student groups from being forced by universities to allow anyone to join.

Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa supports the bill.

“Religious Groups should be free to require their members and leaders to share the group’s faith. That’s the entire point of having the group,” Scapa says.

Democratic Rep. Annie Tietze says this bill would allow student groups receiving state tax dollars to discriminate. She says students have a right to form private groups -- those not sanctioned by the school -- that limit membership.

“But they do not have a right to receive public funding. The First Amendment does not require the rest of us to pay for discriminatory behavior,” Tietze says.

The bill won first-round approval on a vote of 80-39. It will likely be up for a final vote in the House tomorrow

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.