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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

New Education Department Office of Civil Rights Nominee is a Defender of Religious Freedom

  • Julie Borg
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2017 Nov 03
  • Comments

Christians could soon have a friend in the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, a welcome change from the previous administration. Last week, President Donald Trump nominated Kenneth Marcus to head the office, a post he held during the George W. Bush administration.

Under President Barack Obama, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) pushed pro-LGBT policies, most notably expanding the definition of “sex” in Title IX protections to include gender identity. Under that guidance, schools receiving federal funds had to open traditionally single-sex facilities, like restrooms and locker rooms, to students of the opposite sex. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded that policy shortly after taking over the department.

If confirmed by the Senate, Marcus likely will pursue discrimination as zealously as his predecessor, but his focus will be on groups the Obama administration ignored.

Marcus currently serves as president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law, a group that fights anti-Semitism. During his previous stint at the Education Department, Marcus made a point of highlighting the problem of religious discrimination, especially on college campuses. He focused then on discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews post-9/11, but he also made a point of singling out discrimination against Christians.

“OCR has also recently investigated allegations of race and sex discrimination against white, male Christian students,” Marcus wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter in 2004. “In one unfortunate incident, a white male undergraduate student was harassed by a professor for expressing conservative Christian views in a classroom discussion regarding homosexuality.”

Although claims of religious discrimination fall to the Justice Department to investigate, Marcus pledged to “aggressively prosecute harassment of religious students who are targeted on the basis of race or gender, as well as racial or gender harassment of students who are targeted on the basis of religion.”

In an interview with Politico earlier this year, Marcus said anti-Semitism got a boost from the alt-right after Trump’s election, but he also blamed anti-Israeli sentiment among liberal groups for the rise in discrimination against Jews. He especially noted the influence of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which attempts to force Israel to end its settlement policy, for rising anti-Semitism on college campuses.

“We certainly have seen an increase in hate and bias activities since the election,” he told Politico in February. But, he added, it’s “not just in the alt-right but also on the far left. ... Not just from Trump supporters but from Trump detractors.”


Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: November 3, 2017