Colorado Mesa University has rescinded its demand that a Christian student scrub references to Jesus and a Bible verse from her speech during a pinning ceremony for the school’s nursing program, one of the nation’s top conservative religious freedom law group has announced.
The Alliance Defending Freedom issued a statement Thursday saying that the public school will no longer require Karissa Erickson to remove religious references in her speech after telling the graduating student that she must do so in accordance with university policy.
The decision comes after ADF lawyer Travis Barham sent university leaders a letter on May 4 stating that the university’s understanding of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is wrong.
“America’s Founding Fathers regularly opened public ceremonies with prayer, and federal appeals courts have consistently ruled that universities can do the same at their graduation ceremonies,” Barham said in a statement. “We applaud the university for quickly recognizing that the First Amendment protects a graduating student’s right to mention her faith in her own speech and has never required universities to purge ceremonies of all things religious.”
School officials hadn’t initially given Erickson or her fellow ceremony speaker specific guidelines except that the two had to finish their speeches in 10 minutes combined, Barham’s letter to the school explained.
Erickson planned to include a story in her remarks about overcoming adversity that would end with the line “God always has a purpose.”
ADF reports that Erickson was to conclude by saying: “I find comfort in Jesus’ words, and pass them on to you. John 16:33. ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.'”
School officials reviewed the student’s draft on April 18. The letter indicates that they informed Erickson two days later that she would have to remove the last section about finding comfort in Jesus’ words.
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Source: Christian Post