LOS ANGELES, February 13, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit against officials of the Los Angeles Community College District Wednesday. The lawsuit comes after a professor censored and threatened to expel a student following a speech about marriage and his Christian faith during an open-ended assignment in a public speaking class.
On Nov. 24, 2008, Los Angeles City College speech professor John Matteson interrupted and ended Jonathan Lopez’s presentation mid-speech, calling him a “fascist bastard” in front of the class for speaking about his faith, which included reading the dictionary definition of marriage and reciting two Bible verses. Instead of allowing Lopez to finish, Matteson told the other students they could leave if they were offended. When no one left, Matteson dismissed the class. Refusing to grade the assigned speech, Matteson wrote on Lopez’s evaluation, “Ask God what your grade is.”
One week later, after seeing Lopez talking to the college’s dean of academic affairs, Matteson told Lopez that he would make sure he’d be expelled from school. Matteson’s treatment of Lopez during his speech follows an earlier incident in which Matteson told his entire class after the November election, “If you voted yes on Proposition 8, you are a fascist bastard.”
“Christian students shouldn’t be penalized or discriminated against for speaking about their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “Public institutions of higher learning cannot selectively censor Christian speech. This student was speaking well within the confines of his professor’s assignment when he was censored and ultimately threatened with expulsion.”
“Professor Matteson clearly violated Mr. Lopez’s free speech rights by engaging in viewpoint discrimination and retaliation because he disagreed with the student’s religious beliefs,” concluded French.
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