Why CCCU schools are split on claiming one of their legal rights.

What was intended as a “list of shame” for Christian colleges may instead become a badge of honor.

The US Department of Education (DOE) now publicly lists which schools have religious exemptions from portions of Title IX, the civil rights law banning sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. The lengthy list reveals that members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) are split on the strategy for safeguarding religious freedom in Christian higher education.

Since Congress finalized Title IX in 1975, 66 of its 246 exemptions have been given to CCCU members and affiliates. With eight more schools still on the pending list, more than half of the CCCU’s 143 American schools have claimed an exemption.

A disproportionate number of those (49%) have come in just the past three years, after the DOE sent out “Dear Colleague” letters to schools: first to inform them that they could not discriminate against transgender or gay students (2014), then to tell them that they had to treat students according to their gender identity (2016).

Dordt College, an Iowa school affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, received its exemption this September after waiting nearly a year.

“The boundaries around religion in America are constricting to the point where I was concerned that the likelihood of the government acknowledging [Dordt] as a religious institution—and therefore being covered under the First Amendment—was decreasing,” said president Erik Hoekstra.

The protection provided by the exemption is probably broader than that of the First Amendment, said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Greg Baylor, who helped Dordt and other CCCU schools …

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