Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Cross Under Attack at East Central University, Oklahoma

ADA, OK. 15 MARCH 2018 (ORCNS) - In yet another attempt of secularists, humanists, and atheists to remove Christianity and symbols of Christianity wherever they may be found, East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, USA, may have to remove the cross and other Christian symbolism from their campus chapel. A secularist organisation has apparently contacted the university demanding the cross be removed. Thus far it appears no legal action has yet taken place. 

Boswell Chapel

The secularist group known as Americans United for Separation of Church and State contacted Katricia Pierson, President of East Central University. The group asked the President asking her to remove Christian-specific symbols from permanent display in the chapel. Their argument was that the chapel is located on the campus of a public university. The alleged text of the letter is: 

"We have received a complaint that East Central University’s Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel has permanent religious iconography on display. These displays include Latin crosses on the top of and inside the building, Bibles, and a Christian altar. While it is legal for a public university to have a space that can be used by students for religious worship so long as that space is not dedicated solely to that purpose, it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to display religious iconography on government property."

The university responded by removing the Christian altar, a crucifix, and a Bible, as well as hymnals from the pews. However, the university indicated that that would be the end of the removal pending a committee appointed to determine what, if any, future action is needed. The Oklahoma State Attorney General wrote to the Oklahoma University System with the following: 

"I am writing to make it clear that the United States Constitution does not require Oklahoma’s public universities to efface building features or remove other items simply because they are connected to religious expression or heritage. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the Establishment Clause does not require government institutions to adopt an attitude of hostility to religion, religious symbols, or religious people …

As the State’s chief legal officer, I am committed to providing all legal resources necessary to represent and vigorously defend ECU and the State of Oklahoma in the event a lawsuit is filed. The highest priority must be placed on ensuring the defense of Oklahomans’ religious freedom under the law."

According to some legal opinions, it is highly likely that, should the matter be adjudicated in a court of law, the university would be forced by the courts the remove the Christian symbolism. This presents a clear and present danger to the Christian faith in the United States of America. A university, even a public one, is a place of free thought and enquiry. It is inconceivable that a university would be forced to silence the free comment of any group of students and/or faculty -- and indeed the display of symbols of any religion is comment that should and ought to be protected on a university campus. If free expression is not protected on a state-funded university campus, then how can the state claim to be doing its job to uphold religious freedom and freedom of expression? At stake is the question of whether or not society is willing to give up free expression in a public facility simply because that expression offends someone else.  If the removal of Christian symbolism at East Central University is forced by the American court system, it will be a government-imposed censorship at the insistence of an activist group.