FREE SPEECH — Increasingly government agencies are under the control of a little-known religion, the Church of the Gormless Wonders. Its novel doctrine is that the First Amendment requires public authorities to treat all other religious impulses as mindlessly and shabbily as possible.
Some recent examples:
The Catholic News Agency reports that San Diego County officials have agreed to rescind a cease-and-desist
order issued to a pastor who held a small Bible study in his home,
apologizing for intrusive questions about the meetings.
David Jones had held a Bible study in his Bonita, California house for
the past five years for about fifteen people. After a visiting friend
of a neighbor filed a complaint about parking overflow, county
officials questioned the pastors wife about the nature of the
meetings, asking whether participants said Amen or Praise the Lord. The pastor and other critics thought the questions were intrusive
and inappropriate, while county officials justified the inquiries on
the grounds the county needed to determine whether the meetings
violated zoning ordinances.
The Christian Post reports that UCLA has responded to media
pressure and agreed to allow a graduating student to thank Jesus in her
UCLA student Christina Popa claimed the school's Department of
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology was denying her freedom of
speech when she was told by Pamela Hurley, a faculty adviser, that she
would not be allowed to mention "Jesus" in her graduation remarks. The adviser had told Popa in an e-mail exchange this week that it
was against the MCDB's department policy to allow specific religious
references based on the principle of separation of church and state. Hurley, the person selected to read aloud students' personal
statements at the department's commencement, informed Popa that she
would instead read the reference to "my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
as simply "God."
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Center for Academic Freedom
reported in January that it had secured a settlement with Yuba Community College on behalf of a
student, ending a campus policy that required students to
obtain a permit to exercise "free speech" during two allotted hours per
week. Ryan Dozier was threatened with arrest and expulsion if he
continued sharing the gospel on campus between classes.
arrived on campus February (2008) to attend class and briefly share a
Christian message to fellow students, engaging them through tracts, a
sign, and conversation along a walkway. A campus police officer
approached Dozier, telling him he needed a permit for such activity and
that he would be arrested or face expulsion if he continued. Dozier
later received a certified letter from the college accusing him of
"conducting an assembly without a permit" and violating school policy.
The letter stated that his activity was the subject of a district
police department crime report and that future violation of the
directive and Student Code of Conduct would result in further
discipline, including expulsion from college.
Another episode keeping the ADF lawyers busy (and costing taxpayers $35,000 more in attorney fees) was reported by the Christian Law Journal in March.
City of Modesto, California after security guards from Brenden Theatre,
in which the City of Modesto owns and had rented to the theater, is
again free to share his faith to those passing by the downtown plaza.
Security guards of a local theater had told him he may not preach in
front of their establishment. City officials have promised not to exclude Borden or any other
vocal resident from downtowns Tenth Street Plaza, not even on Saturday
nights, when movie and restaurant traffic is at its peak.
According to his lawsuit, Borden, a real estate agent, had been
spouting his message about sin and wickedness on Saturday nights for
about three years before things came to a head last spring. Borden sparred with security guards, who told him the theater had
rented the plaza from the city and could have him arrested for
trespassing if he did not stay outside a barricaded area. Borden questioned city officials who said the plaza became private
space when it was rented, for $100 per night, and recommended that
Borden look for another place to preach.