Current Conversations: Religious freedom bill vetoed

current conversationsTexas A&M University’s student president recently vetoed a bill that would exempt the student body from paying for organizations that support causes that conflict with core elements of major religions.

The bill states that “students who object to funding various services through their student fees and tuition for religious reasons should be allowed to opt out from funding the same.”

The bill was submitted because currently, some of the tuition paid by A&M students goes to the funding of University-funded organizations, including controversial groups like the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center.

I believe “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill” should have passed because it allows for religious freedom and is not discriminatory against one religion.

The First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Although A&M’s student congress is not required to abide by the Constitution, they should follow the spirit of the founding fathers by not requiring students to pay for these organizations.

Since Scripture classifies homosexuality as sin, students who affirm they are Christians should not be forced to provide funds for groups like the GLBT.

Secondly, “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill” does not apply to just one group of students, but students of all religions.

The original draft of the bill focused solely on allowing those against homosexuality to opt out of providing money to the GLBT. One  day before the final voting, however, the scope of the bill was broadened and the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” became re-titled as “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill.”

Still,  the bill applied to students of all religions, allowing them the freedom to opt out of supporting any organization that conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The bill passed the student senate with a 35-28 majority April 3 and moved on to the student body president for final approval. But the next day, the president vetoed the bill, re-framing the issue as one of respect rather than freedom. He said the A&M body must respect one another and be a unified family.

Although student unification is important, governments everywhere should refrain from forcing anyone to support organizations that stand against one’s religious beliefs.

Texas A&M’s student senate needs a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto. This bill needs to pass to show that students still care about freedom and standing up for what they believe in.


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