A state representative says he’s been getting angry messages on social media over a bill he’s filed.
Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) filed a bill that would prevent public colleges and universities from instituting policies against recognizing religious student groups that require members or leaders to adhere to certain religious beliefs.
He says the University of California system had adopted such a so-called “all comers” policy.
“As they adopted it they de-recognized a group call the InterVarsity Christian Athletics Program, primarily because they were violating this rule. They were saying, ‘If you want to be in leadership in the InterVarsity Christian Athletics, you have to adhere to certain Biblical tenets,” Haahr told Missourinet.
Haahr says he wants to protect religious freedom and the freedom of association.
“An all comers policy, while well intended, what it ends up doing is destroying minority viewpoints,” said Haahr.
Haahr says in response to that bill he has gotten messages that have suggested he is a Nazi, is secretly an ashamed homosexual, or is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In what he identified as “Definitely the worst one,” the sender told Haahr, “I will cheer ISIS when they cut off your [expletive] no brain head.”
Haahr said of sharing a “sampling” of the messages he’s received, “I am posting this to show the disintegration of discourse in the current political arena. It’s my hope that shining light on these people and [messages] will remind people of the need for civility in debate.”
Liberal advocacy group Progress Missouri opposes the legislation, saying on its website the bill, “would allow religious groups on college campuses to discriminate while still enjoying the benefits of being a sanctioned student group, which may include the use of campus space and university funding. Because public institutions have nondiscrimination rules, groups that refuse certain persons’ membership are not sanctioned.”
Progress Missouri’s leader, however, jumped to Haahr’s defense on Twitter, saying, “Sending nastygrams to [Haahr] (anyone) is not okay. Full stop.”
Not all the messages Haahr has received in response to his filing in HB 104 have been aggressive.
One woman writes, “I ask you to please, reconsider you actions allowing student groups to block LGBT students from their groups. If we as a people encourage and allow this discrimination, how exactly do we defend ourselves, as Christians, from discrimination? Encouraging, endorsing or allowing discrimination by one group against others is a very slippery slope. You’re better than this legislation.
Another message calls Haahr’s bill, “mean-spirited,” and says, “It very much conflicts what Christianity is all about … if a university group won’t accept a particular group of students, then they should be banned from the university. They are welcomed to have their private, exclusive group elsewhere.”
No action has been taken on the legislation since it was filed.
The same language has been filed in the state Senate by Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia).