Last week we wrote how a threat from the Freedom From Religion Foundation led Arkansas State University to stop its football players from wearing cross-shaped stickers memorializing two of their late teammates.
The school’s actions were unnecessary, and now the university is facing the threat of a lawsuit for infringing the players’ freedoms of speech and free exercise of religion.
Attorney Hiram Sasser of Liberty Institute based in Texas is representing an ASU football player who wishes to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation from school officials. Sasser sent a letter to the school, saying,
“In an attempt to placate the unfounded complaints of activists with a lengthy track record of bullying and intimidating schools across the country into driving any apparent religious reference from public sight, ASU ordered the members of the football team to remove only enough of the stickers to remove the religious viewpoint from the stickers. ASU allowed a portion of the stickers with the initials of the fallen teammates to remain by physically trimming the student’s memorial into a straight line (removing the vertical line that once formed a cross).
“ASU’s actions in defacing the students’ memorial stickers to remove their religious viewpoint is illegal viewpoint discrimination against the students’ free speech. As these stickers were designed by and adopted by the students on their own, they constitute protected student speech.”
Sasser writes if the school does not cease censorship of its students by today, further action will be taken.
The irony is if ASU had simply sided with its students, none of this would have happened.
Groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation, the ACLU, and others often do not actually follow through on threats of legal action over things like these memorial crosses, because they know their odds of winning are slim. And when they actually do file a lawsuit, they often lose.
If ASU had stood up for its students, the controversy probably would have evaporated in a short time. If someone did file a lawsuit over the crosses, Hiram Sasser or our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom likely would have helped represent ASU in court. Instead, ASU officials caved to a couple of complaints, and now they face the very-real threat of legal action.