Sunday, November 20, 2005

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire: Jesus' hangout or hotbed of Satan?

This issue has been fermenting in the newsmedia for the last week, gradually turning from a sweet First Amendment gripe to a bitter BIBLE BAN.

It seems that UW-Eau Claire has decided that an RA cannot conduct his weekly Bible study in his dorm room because it may "alienate residents." The RA decided that the administration was impinging upon his religious freedom by saying this, so he called FIRE, the "Foundation for Individual Rights in Education". FIRE decided to alert every crazy person who thinks UW would somehow be able to steal Jesus and hold him hostage in their evil college lair.

On the one hand, I believe that schools should not be allowed to prohibit student participation in religious activities while on campus. I'm all for allowing high school football players to pray before a game. When I was in high school a teacher once told a student that she couldn't read the Bible during quiet study time in English, and I totally agreed with the student that it is none of the teacher's damn business. Furthermore, the religious freedom of students should never be encroached upon by the administration, as the first amendment gives us the right to free exercise of our religion.

However, the RA in question is not a mere student. As a resident assistant, he is an employee of the University and, thus, the state. His Bible studies are not student-led, but instead State-led. Eau Claire's policy states that "Resident assistants are considered to be on duty whenever they are in their room or residence hall. The room and residence halls where they live are considered their place of employment." It also states, however, that an RA can engage in activities, such as leading a Bible Study, at areas other than the residence hall.

After much careful consideration of the two issues, I've come to a conclusion: The RA in question is being a complete jackass. If he led the Bible study in an unused classroom, it would be fine. If he led it in a dining hall: legit. If he led it while eating an ice cream cone at the DQ--all the better. The only place he can't lead a Bible study is in his own residence hall. While I am sure his dorm is cozy, there are probably other places on campus that are just as cozy and don't cause such a ruckus. Instead of being a rational human being, he sics Fox News on UW in order to create controversy. If UW were forcing him to never hold Bible studies, I would be in complete agreement with his complaint. But that isn't the case, and as such he is just making a mess where there doesn't need to be one.


xtrachromosomeconservative said...

archduke is right on on this. In general I think F.I.R.E. is an asset to public discourse but they have overreached on this case. The student's position as a resident assistant does effectively implicate the advancement of religion through the school. The school was right to take action since he was an employee and was conducting bible study on campus.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...
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