It’s hard to understand what, exactly, public university officials across the country have against the Christians on their campus.
Christian students don’t often lead riots. Those who are serious and sincere about their faith don’t cheat on their exams, traffic in drugs, get drunk and disorderly, indulge in sexual hijinks in the dorm, or otherwise undermine the general campus esprit de corps.
Christian students put a particular premium on learning truth (a time-honored practice in academic realms). They value life and the worth of every individual and have deeper incentives than most of their peers for treating those around them – even those with whom they disagree most fervently – with dignity, compassion, and respect.
Many are driven by the nature of their beliefs to share their faith with others, but most do so in appropriate and respectful ways. And proselytizing is not exactly a rarity on college campuses, where the urge is to make converts runs at least as strong among political theorists, sexual hedonists, and vegans as it does among Christians.
So, what’s not to like? Or, more to the point…what’s to despise, so aggressively?
Something, apparently – for the antipathy is intensifying, as more and more public universities coast to coast are creating and enforcing regulations clearly designed to silence, humiliate, and dispel Christian students. In recent years, the Alliance Defense Fund alone has taken on 70 colleges and universities across the country where administrators have bullied, marginalized, and in many cases, violated the most basic constitutionally protected rights of students who openly profess faith or identify themselves with Christian beliefs.
ADF has won the 61 of those cases decided – a most recent one being against the University of Wisconsin, a perennial base for anti-Christian sentiment and one that’s spurred several lawsuits in the last decade. Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear UW’s appeal of an appellate court ruling in favor of a student ministry at the university’s Madison campus.
The case, Badger Catholic v. Walsh, stemmed from the refusal of UW officials to allow the ministry the same kinds of student activity fee funding that the university makes available to other registered student groups on campus. Their reason for withholding the money: the Badger Catholics’ events include prayer, worship, and sharing their faith.
The university’s policy marked such a blatant attack on the students’ rights as protected by the First Amendment that a string of courts – culminating in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit – ruled flatly against them. And this is only the latest in a slew of clear-cut, ADF-backed cases dating back to 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia that a school couldn’t provide funding for every campus student publication except the Christian one.
But the universities’ bigotry isn’t limited to mere budgetary considerations.
- At Missouri State University, Emily Brooker was threatened with expulsion for declining to violate her Christian principles by completing a class assignment that required her to write a letter to the state legislature endorsing adoption for same-sex couples.
- At California’s Yuba College, Ryan Dozier stood just off a campus walkway, holding an evangelical sign and politely offering Gospel tracts to students who asked for them. A security officer charged him with conducting an unauthorized “assembly” (of one). Later, administrators informed him that free speech was only permitted at Yuba on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 1.
- The Commissioned II Love club at Savannah State University was banned from campus when officials characterized a student re-enactment of Jesus humbly washing His disciples’ feet as “hazing.”
- At Georgia Tech, Ruth Malhotra objected to speech codes that severely curtailed any student conversation, publications, events, or activities administrators deemed “intolerant.” She drew the full fury of those campus officials, who cut off funds for organizations involved in religious activities, banished free speech in all but the most remote areas of campus, and even instituted a program to demonize anyone who considered homosexual behavior immoral. When Ruth’s public stand brought threats of rape and murder, the university offered no protection or support.
Full disclosure: ADF represented the plaintiffs in each of these cases, which all have two more things in common: (1) the schools involved lost their case – expensively – in court. (Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, how do you suppose they made back the money?) And (2), they are all the tip of the iceberg in an academic Cold War against Christians.
Across America, an estimated 274 public universities currently have speech codes that can be used to shut down points of view that a student, professor, or administrator might find “offensive.” (At Penn State, officials even went so far as to say that “intolerance will not be tolerated.”) And nothing offends the academic Left faster than a Bible, a prayer, or a Christian with a conscience.
Of course, ultimately, it’s not the people of faith that the Left objects to – it’s the faith itself. Their hatred is really aimed at a Truth that galls them to the deep, deep places of their souls…in the place where sins, and the need for a God bigger than themselves, can’t be denied.
They won’t go there. They can’t shut Him up. So they’re bent on removing some of the best students and most thoughtful professors they have. If that means destroying not just good people, but the holiest freedoms endowed by that Creator and ever cherished by mankind – well, surely that’s not too high a price to pay, for delusion?
by Alan Sears
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.