Christian students in U.S. not allowed to speak to other students without permits
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In a move reminiscent of the early 1900s, North Carolina State University segregated a student Christian group from the rest of the student population.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grace Christian Life is a registered student Christian group on NC State's campus.
The group was told they were no longer able to approach other students to talk about Jesus or the church without a permit. They were also to stay at their assigned table in the Talley Student Union building as representatives of other clubs and student organizations were seen collecting signatures, explaining their groups and handing out pamphlets.
Grace Christian Life teamed up with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a firm specializing in religious liberty cases.
ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer told Fox News: "It's an amazingly broad speech restriction. Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not places where students need a permit just to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.
"The University has not restricted the ability of other students and student groups to engage in expressive activity. 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."
ADF claims an email was sent from one university official to another in relation to Grace Christian Life.
The email reads: "There is an individual named Tommy who works for Grace who is essentially soliciting throughout the building. 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 continues, stating other groups have been asked to stop similar behaviors to "create that inclusive, welcoming environment."
The officials decided the best way to be inclusive and welcoming was to force the Christian group to fall into line with the other organizations the school supposedly forced into silence.
When the ADF attempted to persuade the University to allow Grace Christian Life to practice in accordance to the law, the school refused and cited 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]."
ADF Senior Counsel David Hacker explained: "The courts have well established that a public university can't require permits in this manner for this kind of speech - and certainly can't enforce such rules selectively. Unconstitutional censorship is bad enough, but giving university officials complete discretion to decide when and where to engage in silence students makes the violation even worse."
Meanwhile Grace Christian Life President Hannalee Alrutz stated: "Colleges are supposed to be places where ideas are freely shared - not gagged. The only permit a student needs to speak on campus is the First Amendment.
"I think this is an attack on my liberty as a citizen of the United States. If they could do it to us - they could do it to anybody."
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