Religious freedom restrictions thaw at Snow College
Attorney sound bite: Travis Barham
on behalf of a Christian student group. In light of the settlement and
corrected policies, the group has voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit.
officials banned the Solid Rock Christian Club from including religious
speech as part of a homecoming event. The college, located in the town
of Ephraim, also denied the club benefits that it extended to other groups.
are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said Alliance Defending
Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “Snow College has done
the right thing in recognizing that the First Amendment protects the
freedom of all students to gather with those of like mind and to express their ideas, and that includes students of faith and religious ideas.”
College policies treated student organizations “associated with
religious institutions” very differently than other student groups.
While most groups could meet in campus facilities without charge,
advertise their events without fees, and seek funding for their
activities, Snow College prohibited religious student groups–including
Solid Rock Christian Club–from doing the same.
In addition, Snow
College officials prohibited Solid Rock from displaying a Christian
message and cross as part of the school’s “Paint the Town” homecoming
event, in which student groups decorated the front windows of participating local businesses.
Solid Rock began decorating its assigned window with a cross and a
message that incorporated the homecoming theme with the group’s
Christian message, school officials instructed the club to stop,
claiming the group was not allowed to “paint any religious symbols or
anything related to religion.” Later, college officials removed the
students’ message from another building, telling the students in an
e-mail that their Christian message “is in poor taste.”
According to the settlement,
the college has agreed “not to adopt or enforce the provisions of the
old policies…that deny student organizations ‘associated with religious
institutions’ the privileges afforded other student organizations.” The
settlement states that college officials “have already implemented [the]
revised policies…and have published them to Snow College students on
April 1, 2013.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed its voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit Solid Rock Christian Club v. Wyatt in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah on April 10. Frank D. Mylar, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, served as local counsel in the suit.
- “Speak Up” University website
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