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Missouri House OKs protections for religious student groups

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A measure supporters say will protect religious student groups at Missouri universities is headed to the Senate after a House vote.

The Missouri House on Thursday approved a measure prohibiting public colleges from penalizing religious student groups for requiring members or leaders to adhere to the group’s religious beliefs and conduct.

Supporters say universities in other states have targeted religious groups under policies that require organizations to accept any student who wants to join, which sometimes prompts organizations to disband.

The bill would not allow universities to defund religious groups for activities or policies that are part of a sincerely held religious belief.

Opponents say that has not happened and that the measure would allow religious groups to discriminate against people based on gender, race and sexual orientation.