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BYU adjusts Honor Code requirements after religious discrimination complaint

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PROVO, Utah — Brigham Young University has "relaxed" a few of its Honor Code policies after a religious discrimination complaint was filed with the American Bar Association, according to a news release from the activist group "FreeBYU."

FreeBYU urges the university to update their Honor Code "to allow LDS students to change their personal religious beliefs without being expelled from the University and evicted from their housing," according to their mission statement.

FreeBYU filed its complaint with the ABA on October 21, 2015. The complaint claims the university's law school "discriminates against non-LDS students, faculty, and staff who were formerly affiliated with the LDS Church."

The American Bar Association has since dismissed that complaint.

The changes are related to the university's "ecclesiastical endorsement requirement," in which each student must obtain and submit an endorsement from his or her current bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an ecclesiastical leader from another local congregation they belong to or a nondenominational chaplain at the university.

According to a news release from FreeBYU, BYU made the following changes to its Honor Code less than three weeks after the ABA acknowledged the discrimination complaint:

  • “Observ[ing] the standards of the Honor Code” is now considered “sufficiently compelling grounds to warrant an exception to the university’s ecclesiastical endorsement requirement”
  • Waiving one’s ecclesiastical privilege is no longer required for an exception
  • “Unusual” or “extenuating circumstances” are no longer required for current students to receive an exception
  • A March 2015 addition to the Admission Policy that allows ex-LDS applicants for admission to apply for an exception is now referenced in the Honor Code.

The Honor Code changes only apply to BYU's main campus in Provo, where the J. Reuben Clark Law School is housed. BYU Hawaii, BYU Idaho and LDS Business College are not affected, the news release said.