The University of California Davis agreed Wednesday to revise or remove its definition of religious discrimination that included a statement implying Christians are oppressors of other religions.
The decision was made in response to a formal complaint letter sent the same day by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of more than 25 concerned students.
“Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus. It’s very good to see officials at UC Davis agree,” ADF Senior Counsel David French said in a statement.
“Anti-Christian discrimination is an epidemic on American university campuses, and that’s what made the UC-Davis definition ridiculously absurd. We wish that more universities would be as proactive in addressing such concerns as UC Davis has been here.”
Since receiving the letter, the university has taken down the website entry listing the definition for religious discrimination. Rahim Reed, the university’s associate executive vice chancellor of campus community relations, thanked the ADF for bringing the glossary entry to his attention.
“This glossary term creates the potential for misinterpretation of the University’s view towards religious discrimination,” Reed wrote in response. “For this reason it is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community.”
The original glossary entry, as posted on the UC Davis campus community relations website, stated religious discrimination as “the loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion.” The definition also stated that in “the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”
Reed also wrote that this definition did not represent the school’s view on religious discrimination, and was drawn “from academic sources used by other universities.”
There is indication of growing hostility toward Christians in other campuses in the United States. In a 2004 Harvard poll, a 33 percent minority of college students listed themselves as “born again” Christians. Three years later, the “Profiles of the American University” study found that 53 percent of faculty members had unfavorable views of evangelical Christians.
However, Timothy J. Swickard, the ADF attorney who wrote the original letter, expressed gratitude toward UC Davis for quickly diffusing the situation.
“We greatly appreciate the university’s prompt and forthright response to our letter in immediately taking down the Principles of Community Glossary web page,” Swickard said. “We greatly look forward to UC-Davis’s newly stated community aspiration to protect all students including Christian students – from unlawful discrimination on campus.”