ADF steps in after atheist entity challenges status of collegiate Catholic group

University of Wisconsin–Madison officials warned against ceding to de-funding demand
Friday, March 03, 2006

MADISON, Wis. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom have written a letter to University of Wisconsin–Madison officials in response to demands made by the Freedom from Religion Foundation that the school de-fund a Catholic student organization.

“Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French.  “Eliminating funding in order to placate an outside political organization amounts to viewpoint discrimination.  We have written to the university to remind it that the law requires that its students and student organizations have equal rights to free speech and student fee funding.  FFRF’s demands have no merit.”

FFRF’s Feb. 26 letter to school officials complained about funding allocated to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Roman Catholic Foundation.  FFRF argued the university should de-fund UWRCF simply because the student group speaks from a Catholic viewpoint.  On behalf of UWRCF and in response to FFRF’s demands, ADF issued a letter to university clarifying the law and noting the university cannot de-fund a group simply because it dislikes its message.

According to UWRCF spokesperson Tim Kruse, the 501(c)(3) organization received funding from the school’s student funding committee last year.  However, the committee disputed, then cut, several of UWRCF’s budget items for this year.  UWRCF appealed to UW’s student judiciary, who overturned the cuts and awarded most of the requested student fee budget.

ADF’s letter to university officials may be viewed here.

A statement from UWRCF’s lay leader in response to the FFRF’s demand is available here.

“Profession of faith or a particular set of values does not relegate a person or a student organization to second-class status,” French said.  “ADF will continue to monitor the situation to make sure UWRCF’s constitutional rights are not violated.”

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

www.telladf.org