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WA Bill Would Require Colleges to Accommodate Absurd Religious Requests

Mar 22, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

There’s a bill currently making its way through the Washington state legislature that seems sensible on the surface but could open the door to a lot of problems.

SB 5166 is basically meant to give “religious accommodations” for postsecondary students. For example, they shouldn’t be punished for missing an exam that falls on a religious holiday. Sounds reasonable enough.

But check out this language in the bill:

Students’ sincerely held religious beliefs and practices must be reasonably accommodated with respect to all examinations and other requirements to successfully complete a program… Instructors must accept at face value the sincerity of the students’ religious beliefs and both instructors and students must keep requests for accommodation confidential.

That vague language says that any academic requirement could be avoided if it conflicts with someone’s religion. (And only religion. It’s not like philosophical differences are acceptable excuses in this bill.)

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