Seeking to “level the academic playing field,” a national group has placed advertisements in major university newspapers urging students to report incidences of “anti-Christian bigotry” on campus.
“Students must understand that the protections of the First Amendment do not stop at the university gate,” said Benjamin W. Bull, chief counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, the Arizona-based organization that purchased the ad space.
Alliance Defense Fund ad urges students to report discrimination against Christians
The ads, which began running yesterday in the papers of four state schools, encourage students who believe they have been singled out for unfair treatment to call an 800 number or send an e-mail to the organization.
“In recent years, extremist voices of the academic far left have sought to enforce a monopoly of thought and speech intended to crush dissenting views, especially traditional Christian views on many social and moral issues,” Bull contended.
“Our goal,” he said, “is to level the playing field by ending discrimination against the expression of traditional values, make the campus a true marketplace of ideas, and end the intimidation [by] the political left.”
Ads have been placed in the student newspapers of Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska. Tomorrow an ad will debut at the University of Alabama paper.
“We were looking for public universities in the heartland with a large number of students and known campus Christian organizations,” Alliance spokesman Richard Jefferson explained to WorldNetDaily.
The ads assert that students may have been treated unfairly if their school does one of the following:
- Dictates leadership standards, including requiring that leadership positions be open to students who don’t believe in your group’s mission;
- Restricts where or when your group can meet or engage in expressive activities, but places no such limitations on other groups that, for instance, advocate radical feminism or abortion;
- Enforces a speech code that limits you or your group’s right to speak disapprovingly of extramarital sexual, homosexual, or other behaviors;
- Restricts how or where your group can advertise, or censors the ads’ content but places no such requirements on other student groups’ ads;
- Mandates “diversity training” that attempts to force you to affirm behavior or viewpoints that violate your faith or conscience;
- Has one set of rules for Christian groups applying for access to the student fee funding pool and other rules for secular student organizations.
The Alliance Defense Fund has brought legal action against several universities accused of discriminating against Christians. It recently backed the Rutgers InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship against Rutgers University, which had insisted that the religious group could not require that leaders subscribe to its statement of faith.
Rutgers – which had denied InterVarsity equal access to campus buildings and a proper share of student activity fees – did not answer the lawsuit, agreeing to resolve the case in favor of the student Christian group.
“When the forces of political correctness are challenged, they generally run for cover as they did at Rutgers,” Bull told WND. “But when the light of day is not shown on them, they are very comfortable excoriating anyone who engages in politically incorrect thought and speech.”
In March, a federal court struck down the University of Houston’s speech policy as unconstitutional after the campus administration barred the school’s pro-life group from setting up a display, while welcoming Planned Parenthood.
A revised speech policy, now under review, might be more problematic, according to Judge Ewing Werlein, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The judge said the first policy “may be recalled with fondness for its ‘liberality,'” when compared to the second policy.
University of Texas speech policies also are being challenged in court.
Alliance’s ad campaign is aimed at publicly funded universities, but candid admissions by officials at private Stanford University last year reflect a common attitude on campuses nationwide, some religious believers say.
A candidate for head football coach said Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland decided not to grant him a follow-up interview “with the explanation that he did not believe that my Christian convictions would mesh well with that university.”
Ron Brown, a coach at the University of Nebraska, said Stanford’s assistant athletic director, Alan Glenn, told him his religious beliefs were “definitely something that had to be considered.”
“We’re a very diverse community with a diverse alumni,” Glenn explained. “Anything that would stand out that much is something that has to be looked at.”