SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Snow College has changed several policies to restore greater religious freedom to its campus and settle an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed in October of last year on behalf of a Christian student group. In light of the settlement and corrected policies, the group has voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit.
College officials banned the Solid Rock Christian Club from including religious speech as part of a homecoming event. The college, located in the town of Ephraim, also denied the club benefits that it extended to other groups.
“Colleges are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “Snow College has done the right thing in recognizing that the First Amendment protects the freedom of all students to gather with those of like mind and to express their ideas, and that includes students of faith and religious ideas.”
Snow College policies treated student organizations “associated with religious institutions” very differently than other student groups. While most groups could meet in campus facilities without charge, advertise their events without fees, and seek funding for their activities, Snow College prohibited religious student groups--including Solid Rock Christian Club--from doing the same.
In addition, Snow College officials prohibited Solid Rock from displaying a Christian message and cross as part of the school’s “Paint the Town” homecoming event, in which student groups decorated the front windows of participating local businesses.
When Solid Rock began decorating its assigned window with a cross and a message that incorporated the homecoming theme with the group’s Christian message, school officials instructed the club to stop, claiming the group was not allowed to “paint any religious symbols or anything related to religion.” Later, college officials removed the students’ message from another building, telling the students in an e-mail that their Christian message “is in poor taste.”
According to the settlement, the college has agreed “not to adopt or enforce the provisions of the old policies…that deny student organizations ‘associated with religious institutions’ the privileges afforded other student organizations.” The settlement states that college officials “have already implemented [the] revised policies…and have published them to Snow College students on April 1, 2013.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed its voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit Solid Rock Christian Club v. Wyatt in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah on April 10. Frank D. Mylar, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, served as local counsel in the suit.
- Pronunciation guide: Barham (BAYR’-um)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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