This year, one issue not getting media attention is whether college officials can censor public speeches that promote religious issues on campus. In many cases, students promoting Christian values or Christianity as a life choice have been punished or expelled for doing so. Most of the cases have been settled out of court, but the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case.
Uzuegbunam is a young man who was talking about his faith in Christ at Gwinnett College in Georgia. College officials stopped him and disciplined him for his words. The college maintains that the constitution does not protect speech sharing religious beliefs, and Chike Uzuegbunam filed a lawsuit against the school.
This denial of free speech is becoming increasingly common across the United States and many countries in Europe. The position of many colleges is, “If I don’t like what you are saying, I have the right to shut you down.” At Georgetown University, a club called Love Saxa, which promotes Christian views of sexual conduct, was eventually driven off the campus. In Finland, a lady who opposed Church participation in a Gay Pride event is being threatened with two years in prison for promoting what the government sees as “ethnic agitation.”
Uzuegbunam’s case will bring before the Supreme Court the question of whether universities can ignore the First Amendment and shut down religious speech on campus. This subject has enormous implications for the whole country. Does the government or universities have the power to stop religious proclamations in public?
In her 1903 book The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall described Voltaire’s attitude toward a book he disliked in this way: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That has become a mantra of freedom of speech, but that viewpoint is being challenged today. For Christians trying to follow the example and command to preach the gospel, this discussion is critical.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case, and you can learn more about it HERE.
— John N. Clayton © 2020