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Developments during 2018 & 2019:

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This topic is continued from the previous essay for 2017

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2018: Free speech wins out at Kennesaw State University in the state of Georgia:

Ratio Christi -- which is Latin for 'The Reason of Christ' -- is non-profit conservative Christian organization with chapters in universities worldwide. One chapter is a registered student organization at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. They promote legislative changes to make abortions unavailable to women, apparently at all stages of pregnancy.

On two occasions, the university judged their messages to be controversial, and restricted their displays to a free speech zone at the university. The area consisted of about 15,700 square feet in size, about the size of a dozen average-sized houses. The Baptist Press implies that this area is miniscule. They describe it -- perhaps somewhat deceptively -- as "0.08% of the school's campus" area of 450 acres. 1

With the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), on 2018-FEB-20, the student group at Kennesaw filed a federal court case in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, titled: "Ratio Christi of Kennesaw State University v. Olens." "Olens" refers to Samuel S. Olens, the former President of the university. Ratio Christi won the lawsuit. 2

ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham commented:

"Kennesaw State has done the right thing in ending the ability of officials to quarantine any student speech they deemed 'controversial' to a tiny, difficult-to-access part of campus. We hope that this settlement will prompt other public universities to eliminate similar unconstitutional policies.

The First Amendment prohibits universities from restricting where students can speak, whether that restriction is based on what students intend to say or simply based on sparing the feelings of others who may disagree." 2

On 2018-OCT-12, the University updated its "Freedom of Expression Policy," to allow student groups to freely use certain "open outdoor areas of campus ... [as] venus for expression." The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) now rates the university's freedom of expression policy as "Green." 3

A color photograph on Ratio Christi's Facebook page shows their display in an outdoor location under an open tent. A sign asks "Should Abortion Remain Legal" Two other signs are marked "Yes" and "No." Pamphlets are available on the desk above each sign.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Diana Chandler, "Christian apologetics club wins free speech battle," Baptist Press, 2018-OCT-19, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  2. "Ratio Christi of Kennesaw State University v. Olens," Alliance Defending Freedom, 2018-OCT-19, at: http://www.adfmedia.org/
  3. "Kennesaw State University Freedom of Expression Policy," Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 2018-OCT-12, at: https://www.thefire.org/

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Copyright 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2018-OCT-23

Author: B.A. Robinson

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