Western Kentucky University Denies Funding to Faith-Based Groups

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Some faith-based projects are ineligible to receive funding through Western Kentucky University’s “Citizenship & Social Justice” scholarships, Campus Reform reports. 

The university grants $15,000 scholarships to student organizations “based on their ability to demonstrate a well-articulated vision, detailed plan, and high level of commitment to a substantial applied learning experience,” according to the school’s news release. 

In an interview with Campus Reform, Leah Ashwill, WKU’s Center for Citizenship & Social Justice Director said, “Faith-based projects that include proselytizing or evangelizing as part of the service experience, projects which promote or advocate for a political candidate or party, and internships that are required by a student’s degree program” are ineligible. 

Ashwill went on to say only projects “that demonstrate an effort to have a sustainable impact” will receive funding. 

WKU’s policies represent a growing push among public universities to limit Christian activities on campus. 

CBN News previously reported on viewpoint discrimination cases across the country, including at Harvard and University of California, Berkley last year. Harvard informed a Christian group it would not be recognized in 2019 unless the group submitted to Harvard’s nondiscrimination policies over the Bible. 

U.C. Berkley allegedly refused to recognize a conservative student group, which resulted in a lawsuit. Later the lawsuit was dropped as the university revised its policy to prohibit discrimination against student groups based on the viewpoints found expressed in their application. 

Ashwill said that faith-based projects which do not not engage in evangelism would be eligible, but such a policy would mean Christian groups would have to renounce their core values in order to receive university funding. 

Ashwill denied that this amounts to discrimination. “We have students from all walks of life accessing these funds…for a wide variety of applied learning experiences,” she told Campus Reform. “To suggest that there are bias issues…would be completely false.”

The university grants the scholarships to multiple participants every year. To be eligible, the applicant must “have a primary purpose of serving others and/or contributing to a citizenship or social justice cause.” 
 

 

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