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A Tale of Two Students

A Tale of Two Students

Student’s Thoughts on Religious Exemptions, Housing Policy, and Federal Funding  

By Matthew Peinado 

Editor’s Note: The following is a highlight from “Legal Discrimination.” Read the full article here

Andrew Moeller and Kat Krause, two very different WWU students, offered their opinions on the policies and subjects related to it. The following is a transcript that combines the two interviews. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity. 

Q: Could you introduce yourself? 

Moeller: My name is Andrew Moeller, I am a senior theology major. I am a Christian first and foremost. It is my belief in Christianity and what the Bible teaches us about morality that makes me a conservative. 

Krause: My name is Kat Krause. I am a humanities major doing the honors program and I am gender nonbinary. 

Q: What do you think about WWU’s sexual standards policy and the implications that has for the LGBTQIA+ community? 

Moeller: I think it’s an appropriate policy. If you go back to Genesis, God created mankind in His image, male and female he created them. After that, God’s first command is for humanity to be fruitful and multiply. I would expect that the University as an Adventist institution would uphold what it means to be married. If it were a public university then all rights of marriage should be respected. 

Krause: It’s always a reminder that I am at a religious institution where my identity is at best, politely disagreed with. It’s wild to me because they’re refusing to acknowledge legal marriages. I’m not planning on getting married anytime soon so it doesn’t really personally affect me but at the same time, there’s that rejection that’s written into school policy.  

Kat Krause. Photo by ASWWU.

Q: Andrew, although WWU is private, we do accept federal funding for student grants. In your opinion, should that fact require the University to uphold Title IX protections for LGBTQIA+ individuals? 

Moeller: In my opinion, it all comes down to freedom of religion. As a religious institution, regardless of whether you receive federal funding or not, you have to respect freedom of religion. The freedom for people to be quote-unquote “discriminatory” towards same-sex married couples based on religious principles. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the Religious Exemption Accountability Project? 

Moeller: My initial reaction to REAP is that it would be a deciding case. I hope the Department of Education wins. I think religious exemption is necessary. If the students win, what does that say about religious freedom in the United States? It essentially means there is no religious freedom. Regardless of federal funding, it comes down to religious liberty. Taking away religious exemption is one small step towards taking away religious liberty. What’s next? If REAP wins this case, it’s a slow slide towards taking away religious liberty that will turn into a landslide. 

Krause: It’s really tricky. This is a genuine conflict between religious freedom and anti-discrimination legislation. On one hand, it’s great that you can have religious universities that differ from public universities. On the other hand, being here as a queer student, I have to accept that the University doesn’t fully accept my existence. Knowing that if I were to get married in a same-sex relationship and that the University wouldn’t accept that is hard. I think it’s a question that is necessarily complex. 

Q: Kat, what do you think about the notion that this could be, to paraphrase Andrew, a slippery slope towards taking away religious freedoms? 

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Krause: I think there is a reason that a slippery slope is a logical fallacy. I’m not convinced that disallowing religious exemptions from institutions that receive federal funding opens the door to infringement on other religious freedoms. 

Q: What are your thoughts on S.R. 3 Protections for LGBTQIA+ Persons at WWU? 

Moeller: I heard about the bill and its passing, it disappointed me greatly. I don’t think ASWWU does a great job of representing the student body. I think that unfortunately, the student body is split about 50/50 on affirming the LGBTQ community. It honestly didn’t surprise me that it passed. The one thing that was laughable to me is that ASWWU tried to change University policy. They don’t have the power to do that. [1] 

Andrew Moeller. Photo by Andrew Moeller.

Kraus: I remember I emailed my senator about the bill asking them to support it. I thought it was a really great way to raise awareness about the issue on campus. It also put some real pressure on administration to consider the language of the handbook which is not affirming. Since then, the University essentially ignored it. It feels like they just put the issue on the shelf to collect dust. [2] 

References 

  1.  Interview with Andrew Moeller, 11/9/21. 
  1.  Interview with Kat Krause, 11/10/21. 

Photos 

Andrew Moeller. Andrew Moeller. Photo by Andrew Moeller. 

Kat Krause. Kat Krause. Photo by ASWWU. 

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