BOISE, Idaho -

Idaho's public universities would be barred from denying official recognition and other benefits to religious student groups under a bill passed by the Senate.

The measure approved Thursday on a 30-5 vote gives university religious organizations freedom to restrict their leadership positions to those truly committed to their faith.

Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie said the legislation protects religious clubs. University of Idaho has come out against the bill, saying it could force colleges to fund groups with objectionable goals like white supremacy.

Ketchum Sen. Michelle Stennett called this a solution in search of a problem, arguing religious groups already can elect leaders as they see fit. She said she also worries the legislation carves out a special benefit for religious organizations.

The bill now moves to the House.