BOISE -- Student religious organizations on public university campuses are one step closer to allowing their leaders make a statement of faith without facing repercussions on campus.

The House voted 56-11 to pass the bill yesterday, sending it to Gov. C.L. Butch Otter's desk. The bill was approved in the Senate earlier this month.

The bill essentially bars universities from denying recognition and funding to faith-based organizations that want to require a statement of faith from its elected leaders.

Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Linden Bateman argued the bill knocks down barriers for students looking to practice their religion. Bateman also cited an Idaho Attorney General's office opinion finding the bill passes constitutional muster.

Boise Democrat Rep. Mat Erpelding spoke against the measure, arguing it could stifle religious differences within student groups.

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