Christian Law Students Punished by University for Speaking About Their Faith
“Students are being targeted simply for expressing their religious beliefs…on campuses, all across the country,” Tyson Langhofer, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said on the Todd Starnes Show.
The following is a rush transcript from The Todd Starnes Radio Show. Listen to the program live Monday – Friday from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. Click here to listen to the full interview.
TODD STARNES: [01:05:54] On the Patriot Mobile Newsmaker Line, Tyson Langhofer joins us to explain what’s going on. Hey, Tyson, how’s it going today? [01:06:00][6.8]
TYSON LANGHOFER: [01:06:01] Hey, Todd. I’m doing fine. Thanks for having me. [01:06:04][2.3]
STARNES: [01:06:04] Alright, tell us the story here. Three Christian law students got in trouble. What happened? [01:06:08][3.8]
LANGHOFER: [01:06:09] Yeah, this is a concerning one, Todd. So, three law students, members of the Christian Legal Society at the Idaho Law School, they along with several other friends, decided to join a moment of community which was going to be held on the front steps of the law school. And it was in response to kind of condemn a discriminatory slur that had been written on a chalkboard of another campus. So they went out there to join. There were about 30 people out there, several professors and a dean and students. And the members of this Christian Legal Society joined hands, about 15 of them, to pray at this moment of unity, while the others kind of stood away. And when they got done praying, one of the students that was standing apart there asked the students kind of broadly why Christian Legal Society has a requirement that their leaders sign a statement of faith before they become a leader of Christian Legal Society, and they explained to them why they did and what the Bible said about biblical sexuality. There was a little bit of a discussion, a minute or so, and then they agreed to disagree and walked away. Later on Monday, that was on a Friday and the following Monday there was an ABA meeting where people brought up this this exchange, and they accused that Christian Legal Society members of being discriminatory. One of the students who was not at the moment of unity spoke up and defended them and said, no, actually, you know, the the only real problem here was when Christian Legal Society earlier in the year had been denied recognition at the law school, because it requires its leaders to be sign a statement of faith. Later that week without any further notice, three students received no contact orders from the Title IX office of the University. [01:08:01][111.4]
STARNES: [01:08:01] So what does that mean? No contact notices. [01:08:04][3.0]
LANGHOFER: [01:08:05] I will tell you about that. So, it essentially tells them that you cannot have any verbal, nonverbal, written, you know, whatever communication with this individual, this student who had made a complaint against them in any way, even if you’re in class. So if you’re in the class with this other person, you have to sit opposite of them. And if you respond to that student, you have to get prior permission from the Title IX office before doing so. And these orders are to remain in place in perpetuity. There’s no time limit, and there is no appeal, and if they violate these, they’re subject to the student code of conduct, which allows them to either suspend or expell these students simply for engaging in dialog with another student that’s a member of their law school. And so that is essentially like a restraining order. And they’re issued, again, without any due process, no hearing and no finding of them doing anything wrong. The only interaction these students have had with this other student is in this one exchange on the steps of the law school, where she asked them a question about her religious beliefs, and they responded. [01:09:19][73.8]
STARNES: [01:09:20] So you guys are now representing the students here. I understand you guys have filed a lawsuit. What happened to the students? Are they still in school? [01:09:29][9.5]
LANGHOFER: [01:09:31] Yeah, they’re still in school, but here’s the concern, Todd. You know, as we found out about this, I thought, well, this has to be a mistake. The general counsel’s office can’t know about this. This is clearly a violation of their First Amendment rights. It’s a clearly a violation of their free exercise rights. So I contacted the general counsel’s office, let them know about it, and said, please remove these orders. This is not Constitutional. This is all protected speech. I mean, these are adults that were engaging in discussion about religion and sexuality. That’s clearly protected speech. And they refused to remove the orders. And we’ve been in discussions with them for a couple of weeks and were unable to do that. And so, you know, these students have been in fear of further repercussions. I mean, they simply, you know, decided to participate in this moment of community with other members of the law school, and they’re hit with this restraining order, essentially telling them they cannot speak with another student, a member of their class. And, you know, that’s a real problem. Not only from the First Amendment perspective, but from a university perspective, I mean, these are law students that are, you know, going to be the ones that are out there defending people’s rights under the Constitution. And yet, we’re teaching them to go to the administration when they have a disagreement with a student and get a restraining order simply because you disagree over your religious beliefs. [01:10:55][83.5]
STARNES: [01:10:56] Yeah, this is sadly where we are in the 21st century. And I know that you guys have seen a pretty significant uptick in cases. And it seems to happen during Democrat administrations. I’m not sure what we want to read into that, Tyson, but these are just blatant attacks on people, because of their religious beliefs these days. [01:11:19][23.6]
LANGHOFER: [01:11:20] Well, there’s no doubt. And you know what the problem is, is that after this event happened, many other people came out. You know, there’s a professor that stuck a big sign on her door decrying religious beliefs and things like that. And there’s other people posting on Facebook about how they’re sickened and saddened by, you know, these expressions of religious beliefs, and they’re not punished. There’s no restraining orders issued against them. The only orders are against these three law students who simply desire to be able to live consistently with their faith and desire to be able to engage in these discussions and debates just like everybody else. And what’s happening is that on law school campuses and university campuses and even K through 12 schools, you know, religious students are being targeted simply for expressing their religious beliefs. And that’s wrong. It’s a violation of the Constitution, and it shouldn’t happen. [01:12:20][59.9]
STARNES: [01:12:21] Alright, Tyson, we’ve got links to Alliance Defending Freedom up on our live show blog. And we would love for you guys to keep us updated on this lawsuit. And let’s hope that the courts are able to do what the university was not, which is make good on these kids. [01:12:35][13.9]
LANGHOFER: [01:12:36] I appreciate it. Thanks a lot, Todd. [01:12:38][1.2]