A university in Wisconsin denied two students credit for the hours they spent volunteering at a church.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire requires students to complete 30 hours of “service learning activity” in order to graduate.
One student Alexandra Liebl spent 30 hours teaching a second grade religion class at Newman Parish, a local Roman Catholic Church. In April, however, she was notified by the university that she would not be receiving credit for her volunteer hours completed at the church due to its religious nature, citing the Service-Learning Policy, which maintains that the university does not award credit for time spent directly involved in promoting religious doctrine, proselytizing, or worship.”
Student Madelyn Rysavy volunteered at Sunday School Classes at the same church.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing Liebl and Rysavy, filed suit against the university, arguing that all forms of community service should be equally given credit and that the university is unconstitutionally showing preference to non-religious beliefs over religious beliefs.
“No public university should ever use a community service program as a vehicle to advance and instill anti-religious bias,” said Travis Barham, legal counsel for ADF. “If the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire wants to require its students to perform community service, it must treat all forms of community service as equally valuable. The Constitution and federal court precedent prohibit it from targeting religious community service and denying students credit for it. That kind of animosity toward and discrimination against religion is unconstitutional.”