Legal Rights on Campus
What are my rights and responsibilities on campus? This is one of the most common questions we hear at Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM). Here is a repeat of an earlier MMM written by Dr. Scott Luley.
"I've Been Obeying Laws that Do not Exist!" These words express one Christian professor's frustration after one of our conferences when he realized he had been "intimidated" into silence by his secularized campus culture.
Today, most Christians are confused about the rights of religious people to express themselves in public education. On university campuses, many radical groups and topics are openly and publicly "advocated" - except one!
Any mention of religion or God on public campuses is met by reaction and intolerance. The phrase, "separation of church and state" is used so often that even the Christians believe it -- and often fear its consequences. Deans and Department Chairs use "separation of church and state" as the reason for excluding Christians and their viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas. However, the phrase is clearly meant to intimidate rather than clarify the law.
In Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist noted in his decent,
The wall of separation between "church and state" is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.
Christians in the university with whom I talk seem to worry more about whether their faith will be challenged than about what to do when it is. This is a mistake. I am equally surprised by the number of Christians who say they have never been challenged and feel they never will be. Sooner or later, shouldn't our convictions or message be challenged by today's politically correct campus climate?
For Christians, "free speech" is indeed not free at all. CLM has always encouraged Christians in the university to publicly stand strong for Jesus Christ so CLM's Free Speech Project was founded in 1985 to help Christians know: (1) What is legal and appropriate in communicating one's faith and (2) What to do when faced with opposition.
We have worked hard to make good information available to answer these questions. One good starting point is our article entitled - "Academic Freedom and the Rights of Religious Faculty." It is available at our LeaderU web site at: www.leaderu.com/real/ri-intro/freedom.html.
Even if you don't have questions right now, take advantage of what CLM offers. We focus on higher education and our staff are specialists who average 20 to 25 years of ministry experience in secular higher education. Take advantage of our expertise and our national resources. We exist to serve YOU! If you have questions or comments about CLM's Free Speech Project, contact Dr. Scott Luley, Director of the CLM Free Speech Project. Phone: 609-258-0550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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