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Religious colleges and obergefell


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Mostly posting this so I can beat Spencer to the punch.  Ha!

https://reason.com/volokh/2021/04/01/bob-jones-redux-the-question-sg-verrilli-was-unwilling-to-answer-in-obergefell-now-needs-to-be-answered/#comments

 

The issue:  This week 30 LGBTQ students filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education, alleging that federal funds should not go to to religious colleges that have policies against same sex marriages.  This blog post posits that BYU could probably survive without federal funding, but many other smaller religious colleges could not.  Apparently, the lawsuit even alleges that religious seminaries should not receive federal funding if they have policies opposed to same sex marriage. 
 

Additional thoughts about how BYU would fare?  Or how about our religious cousins at smaller universities and colleges?
 

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I think it would be catastrophic to religious schools, and I don't think BYU would weather not having access to Pell and other grants, and the like. The Church, while expending millions on BYU, wouldn't fund it at that level to keep tuition at its current rate if it couldn't use federal funding, in my opinion. 

I'm actually surprised that BYU accepts federal funding (obviously it does) and has avoided the strings attached to this point. The only way to remain independent of government intrusion is to be completely independent and private.

The question is: would BYU a) shut down, or b) accommodate to stay in the government's good graces? I think we're seeing the answer to that in recent controversies and actions at BYU. 

ETA: I'll add that I don't think private religious schools (especially seminaries) should receive federal funding. This includes BYU. But, I'm sure I'm in the minority on that. 

Edited by rongo
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Hillsdale College is a conservative institution (but not necessarily a religious school) that refuses any government funding of any form (even if the students obtained the government scholarship on their own).  The school is very strong in upholding the US Constitution (something that might put BYU to shame).

Their regular publication https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/ is available to the public at no cost (although they urgently do fund raising to help lower their costs).  The archive is full of excellent articles from very wise people who give great support to the school.

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1 hour ago, Stormin' Mormon said:

The issue:  This week 30 LGBTQ students filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education, alleging that federal funds should not go to to religious colleges that have policies against same sex marriages.  

I am completely shocked by this development.

April Fools! ;) 

 

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Additional thoughts about how BYU would fare?  Or how about our religious cousins at smaller universities and colleges?

BYU, Notre Dame, and maybe a couple other schools could probably continue on without any federal funding. Smaller religious colleges and universities - not so much. 

 

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It would almost certainly be catastrophic to very many schools. This is an excellent example of the principle that governments which are restrained from interfering with customs and institutions in a de jure sense are able to exert similar influence de facto if those institutions have first been brought down to dependence on that government for basic operations. 

We were given the following "gracious" allowance (to borrow from Chief Justice Roberts' verbiage) in Obergefell's majority opinion. 

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Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.

- Opinion of the Court, pg. 27, Obergefell v. Hodgeshttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

Chief Justice Roberts didn't buy it. Neither do I. 

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Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for dissenting religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. Ante, at 27. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

- Roberts, C.J., dissenting, pg. 28, Obergefell v. Hodges. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

Apologies to @smac97 for my failure to properly cite legal documents, I haven't been to law school. 

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27 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

My law practice is in this area of accreditation of colleges, but I don't represent BYU.  BYU's reliance on federal funds is there but limited.  It meets the qualification so that students can attend on federal grants.  It would be extremely difficult for BYU to tell a student you can't come if you are relying upon a federal grant (or a guaranteed student loan for that matter).  Nonetheless, the DOE asserts jurisdiction over BYU - just like any other university - precisely because it accepts students with federal grants and guaranteed student loans.

Also, BYU professors obtain federal grants for research projects.

BYU could say that it will not accept any federal grants or subsidies of any kind, for students or professors, but then that would foul up the accreditation process. It would also lead to a severe shortage of students and professors.  BYU wouldn't be accredited, which means that students can't transfer to accredited universities and BYU hours don't count towards masters and doctoral program admission.

Do you know how much federal subsidization BYU receives each year? I would guess something on the order of $200 million, but that is a pretty wild guess. Whatever the amount, we know the Church has the financial resources to cover it.

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3 hours ago, rongo said:

I think it would be catastrophic to religious schools, and I don't think BYU would weather not having access to Pell and other grants, and the like. The Church, while expending millions on BYU, wouldn't fund it at that level to keep tuition at its current rate if it couldn't use federal funding, in my opinion. 

I'm actually surprised that BYU accepts federal funding (obviously it does) and has avoided the strings attached to this point. The only way to remain independent of government intrusion is to be completely independent and private.

The question is: would BYU a) shut down, or b) accommodate to stay in the government's good graces? I think we're seeing the answer to that in recent controversies and actions at BYU. 

ETA: I'll add that I don't think private religious schools (especially seminaries) should receive federal funding. This includes BYU. But, I'm sure I'm in the minority on that. 

I agree, the loss of Pell grants would be HUGE. The idea of accommodating to stay in the governments good graces may sound scary but I think it would be pretty easy to do. The church would simply need to stop opposing the legality of SSM.  It's a done deal so they can just accept it and support non-discrimination as part of a very Christian platform. Regarding its own restrictions on SSM, it's hard to see how large of an impact there would be if BYU rescinded their policies about expulsion of SS married couples. How many SSM couple would be at BYU? Probably not a lot so I don't see that as being a huge deal for them. BYU already accepts non-mormons so why not broaden that out to other people with varying religious ideas and/or practices whilst also staying predominantly LDS.

Then again, BYU is gigantic. It probably wouldn't hurt them to reduce in size and only accept people who didn't need pell grants or other government funding.

 

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22 hours ago, Stormin' Mormon said:

Mostly posting this so I can beat Spencer to the punch.  Ha!

https://reason.com/volokh/2021/04/01/bob-jones-redux-the-question-sg-verrilli-was-unwilling-to-answer-in-obergefell-now-needs-to-be-answered/#comments

 

The issue:  This week 30 LGBTQ students filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education, alleging that federal funds should not go to to religious colleges that have policies against same sex marriages.  This blog post posits that BYU could probably survive without federal funding, but many other smaller religious colleges could not.  Apparently, the lawsuit even alleges that religious seminaries should not receive federal funding if they have policies opposed to same sex marriage. 
 

Additional thoughts about how BYU would fare?  Or how about our religious cousins at smaller universities and colleges?
 

How does Pell Grant and Federal Funding work?  Is the money considered to be the students, and it constructively changes hands from the student to the Institution? 

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23 hours ago, Stormin' Mormon said:

Additional thoughts about how BYU would fare?  Or how about our religious cousins at smaller universities and colleges?

If a college/university/church cannot survive without fed money, it shouldn't exist.  So if these smaller schools can't survive, that's unfortunate.  But I would rather see the Church drop its non-profit status rather than be compelled to change its doctrine because of tax policies set by an increasingly partisan federal government.

I supported the push for gay marriage because I am a liberal.  I oppose pressuring religious institutions to change their practices/theology because I am a liberal.   It is sad to see the folks who were crying for freedom a decade ago now become the (wannabe) oppressor.

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Thinking about the BYUs deciding not to accept Pell grants and similar need based federal financial aid, how would that change the student body makeup at Church schools? Does it effectively push the poorer students out making space for richer students? Or would the Church offer equivalent need based grants to replace Pell grants? In addition to, "if you want to grow a beard or drink coffee, you should consider a different university and make room for other students who want to follow our strict honor code," would we also add, "if you need a Pell grant in order to attend university, you should consider a different university and make room for other students who don't need financial aid?"

I agree that BYU's can find ways to exist without federal money, but do individual students need federal money in order to attend school? How might rejecting federal financial aid change the decisions of those students?

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9 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

but do individual students need federal money in order to attend school

There are enough Latter-day Saints with the means to bridge that gap if asked.  Hell, even I'd chip in some $$.

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On 4/1/2021 at 1:08 PM, Bob Crockett said:

BYU could say that it will not accept any federal grants or subsidies of any kind, for students or professors, but then that would foul up the accreditation process.

Can you speak to this a bit more, Bob?  If a university is independently able to keep qualified academics on its payroll, why do the accrediting bodies care where the money’s coming from?

Edited by mgy401
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11 hours ago, provoman said:

How does Pell Grant and Federal Funding work?  Is the money considered to be the students, and it constructively changes hands from the student to the Institution? 

It goes directly to the university, and then any overages go to the student. 

My son (returns from a mission in June) and my daughter (completing her freshman year, going on a mission in January after another semester) both received Lumberjack scholarships from NAU that cover tuition ($12,000) per year. Their Pell Grants were, respectively, $5900 and $6100. Honors dorm housing costs $6000 per year, so the Pell simply covered that. Then, they received a university grant that covered their meal plans (exorbitantly expensive; they rival housing in cost. Colleges make a lot of profit on these, I think, because students don't use all of their meals and the overhead cost has economies of scale savings). So, both have had free college so far.

BYU offered half tuition, so they would have had to pay half of tuition. The Pell would have covered about half of the remaining cost (not including incidentals), and there weren't accompanying university scholarships and grants (even though both had high class ranks and high test scores. BYU is very competitive for scholarships). So, it was a no-brainer to choose "no cost" vs. "thousands of dollars."

Because the Pell and other federal grants are paid to the university first, I don't think it can be considered as going to the student and not the university. 

ETA: They will pocket some of their Pell grant next year, because their apartment rent will be less than the housing cost. Next year's Pell will be around $5100 for both of them (my income has gone up over the last two years). 

Edited by rongo
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On 4/2/2021 at 8:36 AM, provoman said:

How does Pell Grant and Federal Funding work?  Is the money considered to be the students, and it constructively changes hands from the student to the Institution? 

Plenty of BYU profs obtain federal funding for projects. 

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16 hours ago, rongo said:

It goes directly to the university, and then any overages go to the student. 

My son (returns from a mission in June) and my daughter (completing her freshman year, going on a mission in January after another semester) both received Lumberjack scholarships from NAU that cover tuition ($12,000) per year. Their Pell Grants were, respectively, $5900 and $6100. Honors dorm housing costs $6000 per year, so the Pell simply covered that. Then, they received a university grant that covered their meal plans (exorbitantly expensive; they rival housing in cost. Colleges make a lot of profit on these, I think, because students don't use all of their meals and the overhead cost has economies of scale savings). So, both have had free college so far.

BYU offered half tuition, so they would have had to pay half of tuition. The Pell would have covered about half of the remaining cost (not including incidentals), and there weren't accompanying university scholarships and grants (even though both had high class ranks and high test scores. BYU is very competitive for scholarships). So, it was a no-brainer to choose "no cost" vs. "thousands of dollars."

Because the Pell and other federal grants are paid to the university first, I don't think it can be considered as going to the student and not the university. 

ETA: They will pocket some of their Pell grant next year, because their apartment rent will be less than the housing cost. Next year's Pell will be around $5100 for both of them (my income has gone up over the last two years). 

Thank you for the explanation. 

And I apologize if I have not fully understand.   
 

Your children applied for Pell Grants, the Federal Gov in return said "we grant your Children Pell grants" and the Fed sends the money directly to the school on behalf of the Student. The school then takes whatever amount to pay for the intended service, and and left over to the Student?

1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

Plenty of BYU profs obtain federal funding for projects. 

Is that Federal funding from the education department?   In my limited understanding even with Rongo's explanation, it seems there is at least a degree of separation. I guess for example, if a State provided vouchers that can be used to pay for private K - 12 education, it seems that while the State money does go to the school, it only goes to the school to pay for services when a student is entitled to request the voucher.

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2 hours ago, provoman said:

 

Is that Federal funding from the education department?   

Although the DOE may fund research projects at BYU, otherwise the answer is no.  

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