Thursday, July 07, 2022

University of Idaho Stopped from Punishing Christian Students

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This week a judge issued a temporary block to a university policy that censored three Christian students who had expressed opposition to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

In April, students Peter Perlot, Mark Miller, and Ryan Alexander sued the University of Idaho over a policy in which they were barred from talking with a student about their views on same-sex marriage.

Remember when higher education was always harping about how important it is to keep an "open mind?"

Well, that notion has "evolved"---"progressed" to the notion that anything that doesn't fit the radical far-Left narrative cannot be said out loud. To anyone.

Here's what happened.

There is a cultural shift happening before our eyes. and it's going to be a good thing.

Be informed, not misled.

The issue

Back in April of this year, Christian Post reported that three Christian students sued the University of Idaho for alleged wrongful punishment for expressing traditional views on marriage and sexual ethics on campus.

Students Peter Perlot, Mark Miller, and Ryan Alexander of the Christian Legal Society sued the university, naming University President C. Scott Green, Dean of Students Brian Eckles, Office of Civil Rights & Investigations Director Erin Agidius, and OCRI Deputy Director Lindsay Ewan.

According to the lawsuit, the three students went to an LGBTQ event on campus asking if they could represent a biblical perspective on marriage and sexuality.

Of course, the group said no. I understand that part. But a student, there for the LGBTQ meeting, approached these guys and began asking serious questions about marriage, etc. They shared their biblical views. And told him how they could meet again and follow up on their conversation.

Soon afterward, the Christian students were contacted and given "no-contact orders" from the OCRI, which prohibited them from communicating with the student.

No one had complained about the conversation, but the three Christians were denied an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves.

So the Christian students filed a lawsuit with Alliance Defending Freedom representing them.

ADL Legal Counsel Michael Ross said in a statement at the time, "Students must be free to discuss and debate the important issues of our day, especially law students who are preparing for a career that requires civil dialogue among differing viewpoints."

This episode was very revealing. Clearly, there is a strong bias against the Christian kids on the part of the school administration. Even more biased than the LGBTQ gay activists have toward them---in that apparently none of the gays filed the complaint.

The outcome

A judge has put the brakes on the University of Idaho, telling them they can't punish students just because they disagree with their personal---in this case religious, beliefs. 

In an order released last week, Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the university’s policies against the plaintiffs.

Nye noted that university officials targeted the plaintiffs over their specific religious views, namely their opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Defendants’ orders targeted the viewpoint of Plaintiffs’ speech. Both students and professors expressed opposing viewpoints to the views expressed by Plaintiffs without any type of intervention, let alone punishment,” wrote Nye.

The Judge wrote: “The disparity in Defendants’ approach is what bothers the Court most about this case and leans towards a finding that Defendants’ actions were designed to repress specific speech.”

Nye added that “the Court agrees Plaintiffs have a high likelihood of showing Defendants violated the First Amendment by issuing the no-contact orders based on the content and viewpoint of their speech.”

And he added, “Some may disagree with Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs. Such is each person’s prerogative and right. But none should disagree that Plaintiffs have a right to express their religious beliefs without fear of retribution. The Constitution makes that clear."

The takeaway.

Instead of allowing the students to disagree civilly and respectfully with one another and discuss these important issues, the University chose to censor the Plaintiffs. The Christians.

Yesterday, in their infinite wisdom the New York Times expressed concern that our nation is being torn apart politically.

The article said this in part: 

Pressed by Supreme Court decisions diminishing rights that liberals hold dear and expanding those cherished by conservatives, the United States appears to be drifting apart into separate nations, with diametrically opposed social, environmental and health policies.

Call these the Disunited States.

The most immediate breaking point is on abortion, as about half the country will soon limit or ban the procedure while the other half expands or reinforces access to reproductive rights. But the ideological fault lines extend far beyond that one topic, to climate change, gun control, and L.G.B.T.Q. and voting rights.

Later the article said, 

The tearing at the seams has been accelerated by the six-vote conservative majority in the Supreme Court, which has embraced a muscular states-rights federalism. In the past 10 days, the court has erased the constitutional right to an abortion, narrowed the federal government’s ability to regulate climate-warming pollution, and blocked liberal states and cities from barring most of their citizens from carrying concealed guns outside of their homes.

That's the point. Some of the courts, led by the Supreme Court, are turning not toward a bias toward any group, but a commitment to render rulings consistent with the United States Constitution.

And the Left can't handle the truth---as they say.

Star Parker, founder and President of CURE (Center for Urban Renewal and Education) said yesterday in an article she published, "It's reasonable to conclude that most conservatives are happy with where the [Supreme] court has taken us and liberals are not happy."

She's right.

She lists a number of very recent Supreme Court rulings and the effect they are having on Black and Brown Americans: 

  • In Kennedy v. Bremerton, the court ruled that Bremerton School District violated free exercise of religion and free speech protections of the First Amendment when Bremerton High School fired its football coach for praying at the 50-yard line at the conclusion of football games.
  • In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court found a New York State law requiring “proper cause,” that is, a special reason to carry a handgun, in violation of the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms.
  • As Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked in the hearing of the case, “Why isn’t it good enough to say I live in a violent area and I want to defend myself.”

Parker says, "For Black Americans, who live in some of the most dangerous communities in the nation, the court’s decision guaranteeing them the right to defend themselves is important and good news."

She says, "For Black and Hispanic Americans, whose children are disproportionately trapped in failing public schools, the court’s clarifying protections and guarantees that strengthen the ability for parents to choose where to send the children to school is very good news."

She also predicts, "The court’s decisions firming up religious freedom protections of the First Amendment and disabusing the faulty notion that the U.S. Constitution is indifferent to the sanctity of life and provides for abortion rights will move Blacks and Hispanics to the political right."

Parker also notes that "Black and Hispanic voters are beginning to see what the cultural chaos of the left has done to their families and communities."

The University of Idaho administration, the New York Times, and the Leftist voices across our land from Washington DC to the Northwest are growing desperately concerned.

Indeed things are changing. And indeed, America is deeply divided as the NYT claims. 

The emerging reality, however, in my view is that as President Lincoln said, loosely quoting Jesus, "a house divided cannot stand---one or the other beliefs will ultimately prevail." 

I personally believe there are signs of a move to the right---toward commonsense. Toward fixed truth.

Toward God's Truth.

Now more than ever our confused culture needs to hear the Truth of God's Word.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.