A university in Colorado has decided to reverse a ban it had placed on the use of the name of Jesus and a Bible verse in a graduate’s speech after a Christian organization contacted them.
Colorado Mesa University had originally told Karissa Erickson, a nursing graduate, that the speech she was set to give must be “free of any one religious slant.” However, after the school received a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom, they had a change of heart.
Here’s what Erickson planned on saying in her speech:
“I find comfort in Jesus’s words and I pass them on to you. John 16:33,” Erickson had planned on saying. “‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.’”
Assistant professor Lucy Graham first told Erickson to take out her mention of Jesus and the Bible. After the student inquired whether those remarks infringed upon a school policy, nursing program director Karen Urban told Erickson that Colorado Mesa prohibited references to the Bible or any particular religion after students took offense several years ago at the distribution of Bibles on campus. Urban allegedly said that Erickson would experience “repercussions” if she did not purge the references from her piece and said that the school was “tired of dealing with this and has no more energy to spend towards it.”
“As these officials misunderstand what the First Amendment means, we write to inform you that they are on the verge of engaging in viewpoint discrimination and violating the Establishment Clause,” ADF legal counsel Travis Christopher Barham wrote in a May 4 letter to the school. “Thus, we insist that you allow Miss Erickson to deliver her desired remarks without further interference.”
Urban said in a May 8 letter that students speaking at Colorado Mesa’s nursing ceremony should do so “uncensored” and that faculty will not review the students’ speeches. School spokeswoman Dana Nunn characterized the school’s demand that Erickson remove her references to Jesus and the Bible as a “mistake.”
It’s so good to see a school admit they were mistaken in limiting this student’s freedom of speech and seek to make things right, as they should.
In our day and age, society is becoming ever more hostile toward people of faith and are doing anything they can to prevent people from being able to openly share the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is why the battle to preserve the First Amendment and freedom of speech is so critically important. Without this, we will not be able to free speak the gospel and point people toward the message of the Savior.
Let’s hope more schools follow in CMU’s footsteps.
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