LINCOLN, Neb. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Christian student organization Ratio Christi filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for discriminating against their Christian views and failing to distribute money collected from mandatory student fees to student organizations in a fair, viewpoint-neutral manner.
The university denied Ratio Christi’s request of $1,500 in student activity funding to bring in a respected philosopher who taught at UNL for several decades because, according to the university, it could not promote “speakers of a political and ideological nature.” The university told Ratio Christi that, to receive any funding, the student organization would have to “provide another spokesperson with a different ideological perspective” to counterbalance Dr. Robert Audi’s Christian views. However, the university spends thousands of dollars each year hosting and funding events that are political and ideological in nature without imposing the same requirement.
“Public universities should be eager to support an inclusive environment that showcases a variety of viewpoints, not dismiss those with whom the administration disagrees,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has failed to ensure its student organizations are treated fairly and objectively; it turned down Ratio Christi’s reasonable request because of a blatant bias against its particular religious and ideological viewpoint.”
“Today’s college students are the future leaders of our country, which is why it is critical that universities model our First Amendment values,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregg Walters. “The University of Nebraska–Lincoln now has the tremendous responsibility and opportunity to protect freedom of speech on its campus.”
Ratio Christi is a recognized student organization that seeks to advance, teach, and defend Christian beliefs. As part of its mission, Ratio Christi regularly hosts events on campus that discuss topics like philosophy, ethics, politics, and current events from a Christian perspective.
ADF attorneys filed Ratio Christi at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. The Members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Richard Wall, Jr. of The Estate Planning Law Firm of Richard J. Wall, Jr., P.C., L.L.O in Lincoln, one of nearly 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel.
In recent years, ADF has reached successful settlements with universities in Georgia and Colorado after they agreed to change their policies to protect Ratio Christi’s First Amendment rights. Additionally, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of Ratio Christi against the University of Houston-Clear Lake for discriminating against the group’s Christian beliefs by excluding Ratio Christi from Registered Student Organization status and the benefits that come with that recognition.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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