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How One Student Was Punished for Sharing His Religious Beliefs in a Private Chat

By Caroline Roberts posted on:
November 17, 2020

Universities are supposed to be places that foster diversity of thought and teach students how to think critically by tackling different ideas. 

But across the country, universities are failing to do this. In fact, it seems like some universities are directly discouraging diversity of thought and expression. 

Florida State University is one of them. 

This year, FSU senior Jack Denton was ousted by fellow students from his job as Student Senate President. Jack had served in student government for three years and viewed many of his fellow senators as friends.

So what happened?

Jack lovingly shared his religious beliefs with other Catholic students in a private chat, and some students decided that his faith disqualified him from his office. 

FSU then removed Jack from his position as senate president. 

But students’ First Amendment rights don’t end when they step onto their university campus. 

In firing Jack from his job and subjecting him to harassment, Jack’s freedoms of religion and speech were violated. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom is standing with Jack and other students whose First Amendment freedoms have been violated. 

Watch below to see Jack’s full story:

 

The FSU Student Senate essentially forced Jack to undergo a religious test and discriminated against him for his views.  

In the words of one student who spoke out against Jack: “I am disgusted that other Catholics are attempting to stand behind him with his outdated and extreme cult mindset. Those who choose not to denounce Jack Denton tonight should expect the same action and scrutiny from the entire community moving forward.” 

If Jack was punished by his university for expressing his orthodox Christian beliefs, what can students at FSU say without fearing retaliation?  

That’s why we appealed to FSU to reinstate Jack as president of the Student Senate—because if Jack doesn’t have the freedom to voice his beliefs, then every FSU student’s free speech is in jeopardy. But the university administration refused.

So we filed a lawsuit with a federal court in Florida, asking it to reinstate Jack as the Student Senate President because he was wrongfully removed in violation of his constitutional rights. Thankfully, the court agreed that Jack’s rights had been violated and ordered FSU to begin paying Jack as the Student Senate President while the lawsuit moves forward. 

In America, no one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, Jack isn’t alone. Many students across the country are silenced for holding views with which their professors or fellow students disagree. This is no way to seek truth in a free society. 

You can stand with Jack today by sharing this video with your friends and family. Let them know what is happening in cases like this, so we can ensure that the mantle of freedom is passed on to the next generation. 


Caroline Roberts, Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts

Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts serves as a Strategic Communications Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.


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