Most colleges have a policy when it comes to funding student groups: You have to be a registered student organization in order to get any money. Once you’re officially registered (whatever that requires), you have access to grants, free meeting space, the ability to advertise, etc.
Virginia Tech had a different policy for religious groups, though:
“Organizations will not be provided funding to support religious worship or religious proselytizing. Funding requests to host religiously oriented programs, on campus and open to the community, that are educational and balanced in nature will be considered by the board.”
That’s pretty weird… it means that a group like Campus Crusade for Christ couldn’t even get funding to, say, buy pizza for a Bible study.
It seems like every other university allows registered religious groups access to their funds, just like all the other groups… so why was VT forbidding it?
That’s what the Virginia Family Foundation and Alliance Defense Fund wanted to know. They complained — rightfully so, I think — and the policy has now been reversed:
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said university legal counsel, after reviewing the Alliance Defense Fund’s argument, advised that the policy likely didn’t pass Constitutional muster.
Does this policy benefit atheists?
It would, except that the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech were listed as a “Special Interest” group, so they were eligible for the funding already. (At many other campuses, the atheist groups categorize themselves as Religious so that students looking for such groups notice them.)
(Thanks to Keith for the link!)