Religious freedom signs censored on Ohio campus, lawsuit alleges
DAYTON, OHIO, July 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A western Ohio college has been slapped with a lawsuit after campus police told attendees at a “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rally they had no right to hold up signs.
As members of Sinclair College’s Traditional Values Club held one of the national rallies in the largely Catholic area, campus police instructed those in the crowd to put their signs, which read “Religious Freedom for All Americans,” and the banner announcing the event on the ground or face repercussions.
Attorneys for the Thomas More Society say the college’s speech guidelines violate the rights of its 20,000 students, and the police did “irreparable harm to” their clients’ “rights under the First Amendment.”
Its Campus Access Policy states that only recognized student organizations can hold events or distribute literature on campus. Campus security read that prohibition to forbid hand-held signs, as well. The legal complaint warns such a policy could conceivably result in banning all literature distribution – and that violates the very idea of higher education.
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Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the Thomas More Society, said, “Schools are meant for the free expression of ideas, but Sinclair has taken the stance that its students must check their free speech rights at the door.”
Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Coordinator for Priests for Life, was speaking at the event. The lawsuit is filed in his name, as well as two students.
Steven L. Johnson, Sinclair College president and CEO
444 West Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402