A legal firm representing over 25 students has urged the University of California Davis to revise its labeling of Christians as oppressors of other faiths.
In a letter to university officials Wednesday, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Timothy J. Swickard voiced objections to the university's definition of religious discrimination as listed in the glossary section of the UC Davis campus community relations website.
According to the website, religious discrimination is listed as "institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian." It further states that "in the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian."
Many fear that this is evidence that Christians are being labeled as perpetrators for religious intolerance – making believers potential targets for groups hostile to the church.
"Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus," said ADF Senior Counsel David French in a statement released Wednesday.
Adding to this concern, student groups have been asked to reaffirm this policy to their governing committees as part of the campus' governing community principals.
Swickard maintains that the current university's policy is unconstitutional under state and federal laws because it offers protection for select religious groups. Doing so, he asserts, violates the Establishment, Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution.
The policy also violates Article 1, Section 4 of the California Constitution, guaranteeing the "Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference," Swickard writes.
National polls show that discrimination against Christians does in fact occur on college campuses. In a 2007 study entitled "Profiles of the American University," faculty members were unfavorable to evangelical Christians by 53 percent.
A 2004 Harvard poll found that only 33 percent of college students consider themselves "born again" Christians; 22 percent consider themselves evangelicals.
Since Wednesday, the web page listing the UC Davis definition for religious/spiritual discrimination is unavailable for public access.
Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor for campus community relations, was unavailable for comment despite attempts by The Christian Post to contact Reed's office.
The University of California currently has 10 campuses – UC Davis having one of the top public research programs in the nation. The UC Davis campus serves over 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. A search of the campus's student organizations reveals only 10 Christian clubs.