Friday, April 29, 2016
Permit Required to Talk About Jesus
North Carolina State University is requiring Christian students to obtain a permit before talking about Jesus on campus.
Although the Christians have followed school policy and obtained a permit, the school continues to censor and silence the group, while allowing other, non-Christian groups, to function without restraint.
A lawsuit has been filed.
David Hacker, Senior Legal Counsel for the Christian group, says, "The courts have well established that a public university can't require permits in this manner for this kind of speech---and certainly can't enforce such rules selectively."
The university has had in place since the 1990s, a campus-wide policy that requires a permit for any kind of student speech anywhere on campus.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says even that policy is unconstitutional.
However, at the heart of this matter is the selective manner in which the university is enforcing their policy.
The Christian group organized and registered under the name, "Grace Christian Living," and has observed and documented numerous other non-Christian groups, freely speaking with other students and handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit.
The group says, and has documented, that often this occurs in full view of the same school officials that are stopping the Christian group from doing the same.
Hacker says, "Unconstitutional censorship is bad enough, but giving university officials complete discretion to decide when and where to engage in silencing students makes the violation even worse."
Fox reports that ADF is formally alleging that "The Christian group has been singled out by the university."
It is true that NC State University does regulate speech, by requiring all to get a permit to distribute any "written, oral or graphic" information.
Is that constitutional? ADF says no.
And the university's rules are so draconian that the Christians are not even allowed to step from behind their table in the student union. While this rule is supposed to apply to all "permitees," it is only enforced on the Christian group.
The president of the Christian group told Todd Starnes with Fox "Colleges are supposed to be places where ideas are freely shared---not gagged."
Doesn't the First Amendment already permit a student to speak?
Apparently not if they are a Christian, wanting to use a "Christian" narrative.
According to the lawsuit, a university official sent an email to another official expressing concern about the Christian group.
In fact the officials told one another that a student named "Tommy" was observed talking to other students in the building about religion.
The email goes on to explain how their efforts are directed toward controlling students behavior in order to "create that inclusive, welcoming environment."
In other words, the path to being "inclusive" and "welcoming" is to silence the Christians.
The lawsuit also provides some context on the university's attitude towards Christian ministry in general.
The group "Grace Christian Life" was originally a member of Chaplain's Cooperative Ministry, an independent, inter-faith organization that supported individual campus ministries and planned jointly sponsored interfaith programs.
In October, 2015, a university official met with the group to advise them on "the speech restrictions imposed by the Speech Permit Policy."
The point of the university was that Christians were engaging in "solicitation"---pretending to be merely a club, while proselytizing students.
In November of 2015, the university dissolved its relationship with the group because---quote: "The current environment of diversity and faith traditions within the university is not shown or mirrored well within CCM as it currently exists."
Obviously the problematic "faith traditions" is the fact that the kids are evangelicals and are sharing Jesus with their fellow students.
ADF made an effort to work this matter out with the university without filing suit. The university refused.
ADF has filed suit.
"Public universities are supposed to be the market place of ideas, not places where students need a permit just to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms," ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer told the North Carolina News & Observer.
The Observer and other secular media are quoting the university as calling the lawsuit "both frivolous and without merit."
The university says, "NC State's permitting process is constitutional, does not infringe on First Amendment rights, and is in compliance with applicable state and federal law."
They, of course, claim they are not discriminating against the Christians.
It should be noted that this is what North Carolina State University said back in 2006 when they were sued for passing over a conservative (Christian) criminology professor for advancement because he had written "conservative" columns online.
Professor Mike Adams, who sued the school's trustees, finally prevailed in 2014.
In the settlement the university was required to promote him to full professor, give him $50,000 in back pay and a raise and agreed to pay $615,000 in attorney's fees and costs for the 8 years of litigation.
ADF was his attorney.
The lawyers and the university are not strangers.
May God bless the lawyers.
Have a great week end.
Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.