In the past, universities have been allowed to use the religious Studies major to add a religious studies section to the curriculum.
Now, however, the Trump administration is proposing to cut that major’s funding.
According to a new analysis by the American Council on Religion, which is part of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the proposed cut would affect only the religious humanities major, not religious studies.
The major’s new president, Steven Salaita, wrote in an email to students that he is “currently in the process of deciding how to address this decision.”
Salaita’s letter was published Tuesday on the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s website.
In it, he said that the decision “would be a devastating blow to the academic freedom of scholars who study religion.”
“I am deeply concerned that the administration is moving forward with this action and the potential impact on the academic and research opportunities of our students, and their families,” Salaitah wrote.
“It is my hope that you will join us in our calls to the administration to reverse this attack on the future of academic freedom and to reaffirm academic freedom for all students.”
A study published in August found that religious studies programs were the most academically diverse in the country, with students from different faiths accounting for more than 60 percent of the faculty members.
A 2015 report by the Council for American-Islam Relations found that a majority of American Muslims have a religious study major.
The American Council, a civil rights group, said the proposed cuts would lead to a reduction of nearly 20 percent of funding to religious studies departments and would affect religious studies majors who make up a third of all U.S. colleges and universities.
“This cuts would reduce the number of students in these courses from more than 7,000 to around 1,400,” ALC President Nihad Awad said in a statement.
“This would be a dramatic blow to religious diversity in the U.K., where the proportion of religious studies students is already declining.
This proposal would also be devastating for the academic institutions that have invested in religious studies research, and will only drive more students out of this field and away from our national and global values.”