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Religious activity

Religious activity in the outdoor public spaces of the University (i.e. Red Square or campus pathways) that does not disrupt safety or student learning is permitted.


The Constitution of the State of Washington is clear in its limitations on the relationship of publicly supported schools to religious activities:

Article I, Section 2: “…No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious establishment…”

Article IX, Section 4: “All schools maintained or supported wholly or in part by the public funds shall be forever free from sectarian influence and control.”

The Washington State Supreme Court has clearly indicated that the adjective “religious,” as used in these constitutional provisions, applies to activities which are nonsectarian or nondenominational, as well as those which are sectarian or denominational.

The prohibition against the use of public money for “religious worship, exercise, or instruction” applies to indirect as well as direct use of such funds.

Interpretation of limitations

While the limitations are clear, the extent of the limitations is subject to individual judgment and opinion, especially as it relates to the definition of activities which constitute “religious worship, exercise, and instruction.”

Religious instruction is defined to include any effort to persuade or influence a person to adopt a particular religious belief.

The Washington State Supreme Court has determined that in order for religious activities not to fall within the category of worship, exercise, and/or instruction, they must be “taught in a completely objective manner; have no effect on religious beliefs; …not be slanted towards any particular theological or religious point of view; …not indoctrinate anyone; …not enter into the realm of belief or faith; and …not be taught from a religious point of view.”

In other words, groups or individuals may speak about religion, but they may not speak for religion.

What this means to facility users

  1. ASUW, GPSS or other state funds cannot be used in support of religious activities or programs.
  2. Facilities can, however, be made available for religious activity including worship as long as the group is charged a rate consistent with its status (student organization, off-campus, etc.).
  3. Use of facilities for religious purposes can be reviewed and limited if such activity is determined to be dominating the facility (excluding others). Any such determination requires compilation and legal advice.