Public colleges and universities are taking the gloves off when it comes to Christian students on their campuses. Gone are the days of surreptitious slights against Christians; now it is open season on faith. Blatant, in-your-face anti-Christian discrimination is the new norm.
Christian students now face their applications being rejected because they let it slip out that they are a person of faith, receiving failing grades for daring to allow their religious beliefs to outweigh the omniscience of the educational elites, or being outright expelled for having the audacity to live in accordance with their faith.
The rise of anti-Christian discrimination on public university campuses is astounding in its breadth and shocking in its shamelessness.
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is currently representing two students who were denied admission to the Radiation Therapy Program at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC): Brandon Jenkins and Dustin Buxton. These students, who were acting out their Christian faith by seeking to serve the hurting and the sick, were brazenly refused admission because of their professed belief in God.
One student, Brandon, was denied admission because when asked in an admissions interview what was the most important thing in his life, he replied simply, “My God.” In rejecting his application, Radiation Therapy Program Director Dr. Dougherty informed Brandon, “I understand that religion is a major part of your life. . . however, this field is not the place for religion. . . . If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.” The college unapologetically doubled down on this sentiment, stating that Dr. Dougherty’s statement “is not bad advice,” and that students, when interviewing for secular positions, would be better advised to “have a concrete reason for wanting to undertake the training at hand than to say only that God directed one to do it.” (For more on Brandon’s case, click here). This situation is almost unbelievable, but unfortunately Brandon isn’t alone.
Dustin was similarly denied admission to CCBC’s Radiation Therapy Program because when asked about the guiding principle in his life during his interview process, he answered simply, “My faith.” Dr. Dougherty scored the Christian student’s interview low because “He [Dustin] also brought up religion a great deal during the interview.” When we notified the college of its discriminatory conduct, rather than apologizing for their clearly discriminatory decision, CCBC instead retaliated by placing an eighty-five year hold on Dustin’s account, forbidding him from registering for any classes. (For more on Dustin’s case, click here).
We’re in federal court in both of these cases. This college’s anti-Christian discrimination is not only unconscionable, it’s unconstitutional. However, this college is far from alone in its attack on Christian students.
Sadly, we are seeing a rise of instances across the country in which students at public universities and colleges are being unjustly discriminated against because of their professed Christian faith. Audrey Jarvis, a student at Sonoma State University in California, was asked by a university administrator to remove her cross necklace during orientation because it could potentially offend others. In Florida, at Polk State College, a professor gave a student zeros on several assignments because the student refused to agree with the professor’s anti-Christian bias. The course syllabus even stated, “[t]he point of this is not to ‘bash’ any religion, we should NEVER favor one over another, they all come from the same source, HUMAN IMAGINATION….”
At Florida Atlantic University, a student was reportedly ordered to write the name of “Jesus” on a piece of paper and stomp on it. A student at Eastern Michigan University was expelled for expressing her faith in a counseling program.
Likewise, a student at the University of Wisconsin was informed by her professor that “[r]eligious contemplations and the bible [sic] belong to a different realm and not academic sources. So your argumentation along Christian lines . . . are [sic] inappropriate for this presentation. I will not allow you to present unless you change this. You will also fail your presentation if your [sic] discuss religion in connection with it.”
Additionally, Christian organizations are being removed from public university campuses. California State universities have effectively evicted Christian organizations from university campuses by refusing to recognize Christian organizations in college directories and university websites, increasing their room rental fees, and forbidding them from representing themselves at campus-wide open houses, until the Christian organizations accept California State University’s “all-comers” policy.
In light of the prevalent rise of hostility towards religion by public universities and colleges, and the unapologetic discrimination against those professing Christian beliefs, we at the ACLJ are addressing the problem, and we are working towards gaining greater protections for religious liberties. The ACLJ has launched a new public advocacy campaign, joined by tens of thousands of Americans. Along with our representation of students like Brandon and Dustin in court, we’re sending a message to state colleges and universities across America: stop anti-Christian discrimination now.
These lawsuits demonstrate to public universities and colleges that discrimination against students because of their profession of Christian beliefs is unacceptable – the American public will not support such blatant, unconstitutional discrimination against, and suppression of, religious freedoms. In short, we won’t tolerate it.
Matthew Clark is Senior Counsel for Digital Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and four children in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.
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