Did you hear about the University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire (UWEC) banning resident assistants (RAs) from leading Bible studies in their own dormitories? That's the subject of my latest e-mail blast from the ever-vigilant Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
This outrageous, indefensible assault on Christian religious liberties provides a perfect opportunity for the church-state separation crusaders to prove they're really devoted to religious liberty, as they claim. Let's see if they protest.
An UWEC official sent RAs a letter forbidding them from leading Bible studies because students might conclude that such RAs were not "approachable." Don't laugh. Violators, warned the letter, would be subject to disciplinary action. Of course, the letter also purported to prohibit Koran and Torah studies, but it appears such studies were not even at issue.
"Wall of separation" advocates insist their primary goal is to prevent government from promoting religion. The "wall," they say, is what has been responsible for our nation's unparalleled religious liberty.
But the only wall of separation the Framers erected, via the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, was that prohibiting the federal government from establishing a national church or religion. Why? Because a compulsory, state-supported religion would stifle religious liberty, an evil the Framers' ancestors sailed the Atlantic to escape. The thrust of the Establishment Clause was to promote religious freedom.
Not content to stop there, the Framers also included the "Free Exercise" clause, which expressly forbade Congress from making any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Clearly, then, the focus of the first two clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution is religious liberty.
Church-state separation zealots have often selectively applied their wall of separation. They have consistently screamed bloody murder at any whiff of Christianity in the public square, especially when there is the remotest suggestion that government is merely countenancing Christianity (far from endorsing it). But they've sat idly by as the state has outright endorsed other religions or worldviews or their values.