Sober and vigilant witnesses
Religious Liberty | A college student’s free speech case provides an opportunity for believers to examine themselves
by La Shawn Barber
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, at 3:14 pm
A Christian college student wanted to share his faith on campus. Last summer, after Chike Uzuegbunam began speaking to students at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) in Lawrenceville, Ga., and handing out religious literature, authorities at the taxpayer-supported school told him to stop. Uzuegbunam was told he needed advance-notice permission and had to confine his speech to two small areas on campus. After he submitted to their rules, he began sharing his faith again, but campus police stopped him because people complained.
GGC’s speech code prohibits speech that “disturbs the peace” or makes people uncomfortable. Sadly, this isn’t a parody. Today’s college students, whose ancestors stormed the beaches of Normandy and endured prisoner-of-war camps, can’t handle exposure to a worldview different from their own secular leftist one.
Free-speech protections are intended to allow unpopular and uncomfortable viewpoints, so why would popular and comforting speech need protecting? Do you think the school would be this restrictive if a student wanted to speak to students about protecting the right to an abortion or the rights of students who suddenly identify as the opposite sex to use the restroom of their choice?
In any case, Uzuegbunam obtained Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as his legal counsel to protect his rights, and ADF filed a federal lawsuit on Monday.
The lawsuit, Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, explains that “the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects speech that is provocative and challenging, and prohibits the government from restricting speech simply because listeners find it offensive or discomforting.” Additionally, the suit requests an immediate suspension of GGC’s policies and a declaration that they violate the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It further notes that the college has acted in an unacceptably discriminatory manner by accommodating non-religious students seeking space for expression while silencing Uzuegbunam.
The left’s diversity fetish doesn’t include tolerating ideas critical of diversity itself or of godlessness. An educational institution, especially one that receives money from hard-working taxpayers, should allow students to say unpopular things and to exercise their faith, both constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. This would include openly sharing the gospel.
Cases like Uzuegbunam’s give Christians an opportunity for self-examination. We share the gospel by word and deed. How we live testifies to Christ’s power to change lives. Unbelievers are always watching and waiting to catch us contradicting ourselves and being hypocrites. It might be lost on some of the lost that Christians are still sinners or that perfect people don’t need a Savior. Regardless, we bear a burden to keep our own behavior in check as the Enemy seeks to undermine us.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” the Apostle Peter wrote. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
La Shawn Barber
La Shawn is a former WORLD columnist.