Student's lawsuit says school policy bars him from preaching

Thursday, April 3, 2014
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

An evangelical college student in Virginia was forced to sue his school after he was unconstitutionally prevented from sharing his faith on campus last fall.

In accordance with its campus demonstrations policy, Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton required Christian Parks to be a part of a student organization and get permission four days in advance in order to speak openly about his faith. He had twice previously done so with no problem, but the third and fourth times was ordered by campus police officers to stop.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney David Hacker helped file Parks' lawsuit against the school.

"It's a very clear situation of colleges – which are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas – censoring and restricting students' free speech, which all too often happens to the Christian students on campus," he explains.

The result of the school policy, Hacker told The Virginian-Pilot, is that it "disables spontaneous and anonymous speech" by students and limits their ability to "reach out to their peers" in those campus areas where students typically gather. But Hacker says there's an even more troubling aspect of the situation.

Hacker, David (ADF)"The police officer said that Christian speech 'might offend' somebody else," he tells OneNewsNow. "I mean, there wasn't even really a complaint against this; it was just the potential for offense that caused the college to act this way."

The attorney describes it as "just another perfect example of a culture that thinks that they can declare something offensive and then ban it from being said."

The suit is seeking to have the court rule Thomas Nelson's policy unconstitutional and throw it out. The school is also being asked to pay reasonable lawyer fees and nominal damages.

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