Wisconsin university considers barring religious activity from community service

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2004

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire proposal would prohibit students from counting religious activity for their required 30 hours of community service.

Students must complete the volunteer work to graduate. The new policy would exclude projects that require religious membership or that involve conducting, recruiting or preaching religion.

Administrators sought legal advice on church-state separation and proposed the new policy, which was approved by the academic policies committee Oct. 26 but is not yet final.

Associate Vice Chancellor Steven Tallant said if a state institution awards academic credit for such activities, ''we are endorsing that religion,'' the Leader-Telegram reported.

But Professor Kent Syverson, chairman of the academic policies committee, said ''it seems to me they're picking on a marginalized group, and in the process they're quashing free speech and individual liberties.''

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