A campus police officer approached Chike Uzuegbunam. The officer explained that there had been complaints and ordered Chike to stop what he was doing.
But Chike wasn’t protesting an event or shouting down a speaker. He was simply sharing the Gospel with fellow students at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC). And he was doing so peacefully.
Ever since Chike became a Christian, he has been filled with a joy he cannot contain. He wants others to experience that same joy, along with the peace and love that only comes from God. So, Chike set out to talk about his faith with interested students and hand out literature on his campus.
But campus officials blocked his efforts at every turn.
First, they confined Chike to two small speech zones that made up less than 0.0015 percent of campus and were only open 18 hours a week. These restrictions were not only unfair but also unconstitutional. Still, Chike obeyed.
But that wasn’t enough for campus officials. When Chike began sharing the Gospel during his reserved time in one of the speech zones, a campus police officer told him to stop speaking publicly because some people had complained. The officer claimed that Chike’s speech, even in the speech zones, was “disorderly conduct” and a violation of GGC’s Student Code of Conduct. That policy defined “disorderly conduct” to include anything that “disturbs the peace and/or comfort of person(s).”
Chike knew that his First Amendment rights were being violated. So he challenged GGC’s speech policy in court.
That’s when GGC revealed its hostility toward Chike’s religious beliefs. When the college filed a motion to dismiss the case, it called Chike’s speech “fighting words,” a category of speech that is meant to incite violence and is not protected under the First Amendment.
The Gospel message is not “fighting words.” And it’s insulting to all Christians to say that expressing a message of peace and truth is the same thing as inciting violence.
Today, Chike’s case continues. While GGC has backed off its “fighting words” argument and has slightly amended the policies it used to punish him, it still insist its officials did nothing wrong when they silenced him twice. So Chike still has not received the justice he deserves.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom appealed this case on behalf of Chike. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will hear this case on May 14, 2019.
First Amendment Freedoms Are Under Attack on College Campuses
Chike’s story is not an isolated incident.
Campuses across the country are restricting speech, only allowing those with a particular worldview to speak freely. And those who fall outside that worldview are being silenced—from a professor destroying a pro-life group’s display to a public college arresting volunteers for handing out the Constitution.
This is a disturbing trend. College and universities are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas, not assembly lines for one type of thought.
Every American has the God-given right to speak and believe freely. That means every American should be free to speak about what they believe. And you don’t give up these rights when you walk onto a public college campus.
It shouldn’t matter what views someone is expressing—no one should be silenced on a public campus. The fact that Chike was silenced twice should concern us all.