Beliefnet

“That means the groups cannot meet in campus buildings for free, cannot set up tables in the main mall where students walk each day,” noted Lorence. “The Christian groups are in effect banished from the main avenues of communication with students and relegated to a second-class status.”

Incredibly, the circuit court upheld the university’s discriminatory policy, 2-1.

“Although the judges admitted that the policy as applied here treated the religious groups worse than non-religious student groups, it was constitutional because there is ‘no evidence that San Diego State implemented its nondiscrimination policy for the purpose of suppressing Plaintiffs’viewpoint.’” The precedent? Martinez.

“Judge Ripple, a visiting appeals court judge from Wisconsin,” notes Lorence, “reluctantly agreed with the ruling because of precedent for the Ninth Circuit. But in his concurring opinion, he urged the Supreme Court to take the case, and rule strongly in favor of religious liberty:

“The net result of this selective policy is therefore to marginalize in the life of the institution those activities, practices and discourses that are religiously based. While those who espouse other causes may support their membership and come together for mutual support, others, including those exercising one of our most fundamental liberties – the right to free exercise of one’s religion — cannot, at least on equal terms.”

But are Christian students really facing discrimination on college campuses?

Student Larinda King was astonished when Georgia’s Savannah State University suddenly shut down a student group called Commissioned II Love, one of the most popular clubs on campus. Administrators

abruptly banned the club, charging that the group’s leaders were “hazing” other members.

Student leader Larinda King

Hazing, of course, has fallen into political incorrectness – it’s no longer acceptable to force freshmen to rub chocolate cake in each other’s hair and sing at the top of their lungs “I Feel Pretty” in order to get into a fraternity or require rookie athletes to scrub toilets with their toothbrushes or wear jockey straps on their heads to class, for example.

However, the “hazing” at Savannah State was nothing of the sort — instead a voluntary foot-washing ceremony, in which Christians for 2,100 years have followed Jesus’ example of showing humility and an attitude of service. Annually the Pope washes a fellow priest’s feet. Jesus did it at the Last Supper.

Stunned at the college’s action, King, who is the student president of Commissioned II Love, enlisted the National Litigation Foundation to sue Savannah State on her behalf, citing their violation of her group’s First Amendment-protected right to assemble and express religious faith. The school eventually agreed to a settlement that restored the club to its former place on campus and asserted the right of Christian organizations at any university to meet and act in accordance with their religious beliefs.

In Washington state, Beth Sheeran was a nursing student at Spokane Falls Community College when she spearheaded an effort by a

Christian club on campus to sponsor a pro-life event.

Nursing student Beth Sherran

“She had almost completed the extensive preparations when she learned the college was shutting down the event,” reports the website Speak Up. “Her determination to know why brought her face-to-face with the sometimes absurd objections of the faculty and administrators (“Washington is a pro-choice state, and we can’t use school grounds for a pro-life display.”) and their very real determination to silence free speech on campus. She and other club members were threatened with expulsion, should they so much as hand out flyers with pro-life themes.

Realizing that “the abuse of authority would also shut doors to the Gospel,” and worried that fear for their education might keep many Christian students from speaking the truth, Beth reluctantly decided to file a suit against the school district whose policies were being enforced at Spokane Falls and other colleges and universities throughout the area.”

The district settled the case, agreeing to change its restrictive speech policies and restore the First Amendment protections of all students.

But why should a student have to go to court to secure her freedom of free speech on a college campus?
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus