Eastfield College needed the threat of a lawsuit to stop it from throwing religious freedom into the fire, or the kiln as it were. You see, last summer, the community college in Mesquite, Texas offered a non-credit ceramics course to the public. According to Eastfield, the class was designed to encourage original, creative work by students. However, students were forbidden from making work that is sexually or racially offensive, threatening, or harassing. Oh yeah, and as it turns out, crosses were prohibited too.
Joe Mitchell, a 69-year-old retiree, took the class for three years and constructed many ceramic pieces that were not religious in nature. In 2009, he designed and crafted a few crosses but the College refused to fire the works claiming that the crosses “demean[ed]” the goals of the class and were as offensive as a “swastika.” Liberty Legal Institute intervened and informed the College that its action violated Mr. Mitchell’s freedom of religion and that he would sue, if necessary, to protect that freedom. Eastfield responded by issuing a letter stating that it had dropped the ban on crosses.
This is yet another example of academia’s ingrained bias against Christians. Eastfield—like many public colleges and universities—treats Christian expression like pornography and bigoted, offensive, and harassing invective. They ban all types of religious expression and push it into the dark corners of campus until organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty Legal Institute expose them with the light of the Constitution. For almost half a century, the Supreme Court has described America’s public universities as the “marketplace of ideas.” It’s time for those universities to own up to their constitutional obligations.