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Students React to New Kansas Law Allowing Religious Groups on Ca - KOAM TV 7

Students React to New Kansas Law Allowing Religious Groups on Campus to Restrict Membership

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  Pittsburg State University students reacted to a new law allowing faith based groups to limit membership.

     It's a law some expect will be contested in court by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kolleen Gladden, a sophomore, started a sorority for Christian women at PSU. The goal she said,"To teach them how to defend their faith and understand it. And to also do service with the community and outside the community."

On Tuesday  Governor Sam Brownback signed what he said is a law  to protect the religious liberties of organizations like Gladden’s and their ability to restrict membership.

Brownback said, "It bars post -secondary  education  institutions from barring or denying benefits to religious students organizations on the grounds of their requirements of religious beliefs."

Gladden's group received three hundred dollars which was turned into a fundraiser for Rapha house which helps victims of sexual trafficking but  she  worries the law could be taken to extremes.

 Gladden said, "I think it makes sense but a lot of times, I don't see why a person of a different perspective would want to join an organization

That’s of a very like specific or very narrow or viewpoint.  At the same time, it can become dangerous when it becomes law. Then it goes into how much can we restrict and can we restrict people based on things they can’t control."

Representative Chuck Smith voted for and then against the measure  saying student senates have the choice to approve or deny  the organizations being on campus.

Rep. Smith said, “It’s kind of a student democracy. They have a faculty adviser. They should have some protection, I agree, but again I don’t think it something we should legislate."

senator Jake La Turner from southeast Kansas voted for the measure. he says quote

"religious groups have a constitutional right that deserves defending.

 The U.S. Supreme court ruled in 2010 that universities could require such groups to open their memberships to all. And other students on campus agree with that concept.

Junior Felicia Beard said, “I don’t think it was necessary. I think you should diversify. I think that’s a big thing you need to do and  important for any organization really."

Dylan Brewer, also a junior agreed," I do think it makes a difference on campus.  It should be open. There are people who want to be with their friends even if they're different religions." ?

Kolleen said her organization, like other fraternities and sororities  on campus, already has the power to limit its membership. 

Gladden said,   "Just like Greek organizations, we too have a bidding process. We have girls fill out an interview sheet, we talk to them, technically,  we could restrict membership any way we wanted."

Gladden said her group appreciates different perspectives and even  recently had a presentation by Muslim women.

      The law takes effect in July.

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