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NC State University Students Need Permit to Talk About Jesus

04-29-2016
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North Carolina State University is facing a lawsuit after requiring Christian students to have a permit before talking about Jesus.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit after university officials forbade an on-campus Christian group called Grace Christian Life from handing out fliers and talking about Jesus without a permit.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer told CBN News that schools throughout the United States are hindering the free speech of students, but he said NC State's policy is one of the most restrictive.

"So there are a lot of bad policies, but this NC State policy is one of the broadest policies I've seen," he said. "I mean it literally says... it covers the entire campus, and it says that you are required to get a permit prior to any oral speech to a passer-by. And that's about as broad a prior restraint as I've seen on college campuses."

ADF attorneys say the policy is unconstitutional and was used to discriminate against Grace Christian Life.

"Free speech on campus is a no-brainer," Langhofer said. "College students don't need a permit to talk to their classmates on campus. The only permit a student needs to speak on campus is the First Amendment."

Although Grace Christian Life followed school policy and obtained a permit, they say they were still prohibited from passing out fliers, leaving their student tables, and talking about Jesus.

Meanwhile, ADF says other student organizations were able to speak freely without a permit.

"Our clients are in the Talley Student Union a lot, and they see all kinds of groups -- both on-campus groups and off-campus groups -- passing out material, talking to students and not requiring a permit," Langhofer said.

"And so the bottom line is we believe, and we believe the evidence shows that NC State is targeting our group for talking to others about Jesus and sharing their religious beliefs," he said.

"Grace Christian Life members observed and documented numerous other groups freely speaking with other students and handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit - sometimes in full view of the same officials that stopped Grace Christian Life from doing the same," ADF said in a statement on the firm's website.

"The courts have well established that a public university can't require permits in this manner for this kind of speech - and certainly can't enforce such rules selectively," explained ADF Senior Counsel David Hacker on the firm's website.

"Unconstitutional censorship is bad enough, but giving university officials complete discretion to decide when and where to engage in silencing students makes the violation even worse," he said.

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