Troy University's new faith-based dorms are causing controversy. That's after an organization accused the university of violating the separation of church and state and discriminating against some religions.
A Wisconsin-based group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, says Troy University's new dorms violate the constitution. But university officials say they just give students another option.
The new dorms will open to students this fall. But do they discriminate against non-Christians? Students have mixed views.
"We built this country on Christian thoughts and feelings and I think it's great to have a place for them to come together," said Blake Bradley.
Troy University Junior Haley Muncher agreed, but said she's not sure it's inclusive enough to all students. "At the same time I also feel like it's unfair to only let those certain group of people live there. They shouldn't be able to do that, none of the other dorms are that way, so it's kind of unfair," said Muncher
FFRF attorneys say the dorms violate fair housing laws.
"We know that university officials have expressed that the dorm will prefer Christian students or students who live a godly lifestyle, whatever the language is that they've used, over those who don't, so that right there raises serious constitutional and discrimination concerns," said Andrew Seidel with the FFRF.
However, Dr. John Schmidt, Troy University Vice Chancellor, says the university is not giving Christians preferential treatment by building the dorms. "I think if anything it's very inclusive. Here on campus, we traditionally hose many groups. We just had the Church of Latter Day Saints on campus, we've had the Episcopal church, we've had, in terms of our student groups, we've had the celebration of Ramadan, so we think it's going to be very inclusive," said Schmidt.
According to university officials, private donations to the Troy University Foundation are paying for the $11.8 million project. However, Seidel says that's still a violation of separation of church and state, because the building, which will include a Catholic Newman Center, is a government building on public university property.
Troy University officials say they have not received a letter from FFRF and have not had any direct contact with any members of that group. Seidel says the organization is in the process of reviewing applicable laws and statutes before drafting a letter, which he says the organization will send in the near future.