United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a five-part plan to ensure the equal treatment of religious organizations and faith-based institutions.
The proposal will implement President Donald J. Trump’s “Executive Order on the Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” which guarantees equal treatment for both religious and non-religious organizations under the federal government.
The proposal demands that higher education institutions must treat both faith-based and non-religious student organizations equally in terms of funds and policies.
Various regulations such as the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, the Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program and the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions Program of the Higher Education Act will be amended under the proposal. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the regulations restrict grants related to “sectarian instruction” and “religious worship.”
The Department of Education will also clearly define what it means for an institution to be controlled under a religious organization. Lastly, the “Executive Order of Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” will be implemented. This ensures that public higher education institutions who receive federal research or education abide by the First Amendment.
“Our actions today will protect the constitutional rights of students, teachers and faith-based institutions,” said DeVos in a statement. “The Department’s efforts will level the playing field between religious and non-religious organizations competing for federal grants, as well as protect First Amendment freedoms on campus and the religious liberty of faith-based institutions. I proudly share President Trump’s commitment to religious freedom and the First Amendment.”