Friday, January 20, 2006

BadgerZach Wrong on Lenten Booklets and Religion

In the CapitalTimes yesterday, UWRCF made the frontcover with their lawsuit against SSFC. The issue of student government funding religious organizations is clearly a touchy issue as "the separation of church and state" loomed largely in the back of my mind when first hearing the UWRCF's eligibility. The fact is though from the 2000 Southworth Supreme Court Case, no group may be turned down for funding whether religous or not and the viewpoint of the group should not be taken into consideration. Members of SSFC love to make a big deal about not funding church services but seem to like funding other religous ceremonies like pow-wows. This fact is neither here or nor there however. Following the precedent of Southworth, SSFC can fund religious activities and indeed we funded UWRCF's youth group service (Alpha-Omega similar to Campus Crusade's Primetime), bible studies, and other clearly religious events. The committee did make a few mistakes, particularly on the Lenten Booklets and rent. I don't think the committee was consistent on rent but it is a complex issue....let's go to Lenten booklets. Here's what BadgerZach had to say in the Capital Times:

It's a slippery slope for the Student Judiciary to rule that we have to pay for Lenten booklets that are handed out at a religious ceremony.

I agree that it is a slippery slope for the SJ to rule that the commitee have to pay for Lenten booklets. But the fact is that we funded every other speech literature that was put out. I voted "yes" to the cut because I was under the impression that it was simply a handout that the Catholic church put out in their building, written by outside Catholics. I did not know that the devotions of the Lenten booklets were written by students and passed out around campus (Moral Majority referred to my comments to Tim Kruse in this op-ed). These two facts makes it similar to other types of speech literature like "The Voice" by JCC or Mecha's newsletter. Committee members should not discriminate on the type of literature that is being passed out. Inconsistent are we BadgerZach....

They're pulling the religious card, and I don't think that's necessarily right.

Yes, UWRCF is pulling the religious card and very good reasons. Who grilled them continuously about prosletyzing, religous worship, etc. in both the eligibilty process and budgets??? The whole committee but to point out 2 members who were excessively critical....BadgerZach and Sree Atluru. UWRCF took an excessive amount of questioning and cuts because many members of the committee are anti-religion and the traditional spenders were unwilling to stand up for them. The fact is that a lot of the line items wouldn't have been cut or would have been up for much more discussion had it not been UWRCF.

I hope that ASM Student Council can correct SSFC's ill-advised decisions and restore the funding that's consistent. I am pessimistic however because the committee made a series of great cuts that may be harder to get through Council and UWRCF's budget may end up being too large for my tastes. We'll have to see....


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