A permit is required before students can talk about Jesus at North Carolina State University, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
Grace Christian Life, a registered student group at NC State, filed suit over a policy requiring a permit for any kind of student speech or communication anywhere on campus – including religious speech.
In September 2015, the student group was told that without a permit, they must stop approaching other students inside the student union to engage in religious discussions or invite them to attend group events.
“It’s an amazingly broad speech restriction, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Tyson Langhofer told me. “Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not places where students need a permit just to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases. They allege the Christian group has been singled out by the university.
“The University has not restricted the ability of other students and student groups to engage in expressive activity,” the lawsuit states. “Grace has witnessed other students, student groups and off-campus groups handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit.”
It’s true that the university does regulate student speech – written, oral or graphic.
ADF points to Regulation 07.25.12 that “requires a permit for any form of commercial or non-commercial speech, which the policy broadly defines as ‘any distribution of leaflets, brochures, or other written material, or oral speech to a passersby (sic)…’”
“The policy specifics that any person ‘wishing to conduct any form of solicitation on University premises must have the written permission of the Student Involvement (Office) in advance,” ADF noted.
According to the lawsuit, a university official sent an email to another official concerned about the Christian club.
“There is an individual named Tommy who works for Grace who is essentially soliciting throughout the building,” the email reads. “He walks up to a single person or duo of persons, starts with a hello and then starts the conversation into religion, ending with giving them a card.”
The email goes on to explain how they’ve stopped other groups from engaging in similar behavior in order to “create that inclusive, welcoming environment.”
In other words, the only way to be truly inclusive and welcoming is to shut down the Christians and shove them into a closet. Full Report