A Chicago-area high school student named Heidi Zamecnik wore a T-shirt to school reading “Be Happy, Not Gay.” She wore it the day after the “Day of Silence,” on which students -- at the instigation of gay activist groups -- wore clothing expressing support for homosexuals and their lifestyle.
School officials had no problem with “Day of Silence” activities. But when it came to Heidi’s T-shirt, school officials were outraged. A counselor used a black marker to cross out the words “Not Gay,” effectively stifling Heidi’s message.
Heidi, with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, went to court. It took a ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Heidi’s high school to finally back down. As the court put it, “People in our society do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or even their way of life.”
Good for the court! Somebody needs to tell that, however, to Eastern Michigan University. Julea Ward, a Christian graduate student in the counseling program there, was kicked out because she refused to affirm homosexual conduct as morally acceptable.
Ward had been asked to counsel a client about a homosexual relationship. She declined, saying she could not affirm the client’s relationship without violating her religious beliefs. On the advice of her supervising professor, Ward referred the client to a counselor who had no moral objections to affirming homosexual relationships.
But Eastern Michigan has a speech code that prohibits “discrimination based on ... sexual orientation.” Unless Ward submitted to a “remedial program” in order to understand “the error of her ways” and alter her “belief system,” she would be expelled.
In effect, the school has outlawed Christian beliefs and free speech.
It may not surprise you to learn that the EMU speech code did not deter the faculty from making derogatory comments to Ward about her Christian beliefs -- just before they threw her out of the counseling program.
Ward, who was also helped by the Alliance Defense Fund, sued. Unfortunately, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upheld Eastern Michigan University’s discriminatory speech code. Ward is now appealing the decision.
Folks, we are going to see more and more of this kind of thing: We had a taste of it last fall, when Apple banned the Manhattan Declaration from the iTunes store because gay activist groups protested. We saw it again more recently when Apple banned the app created by Exodus International, a ministry that helps people leave the homosexual lifestyle.
The radical gay lobby, you see, is determined to stamp out all opposition to its agenda, punishing those who dare to speak out against them. Their attacks have become so vicious that a Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, recently protested to the United Nations about the way Christians are being stigmatized, vilified, and prosecuted for expressing biblical moral beliefs about sexuality.
In effect, we are seeing the demonization of Christian belief and speech. If we don’t speak out and fight back -- lovingly, of course -- as Heidi Zamecnik and Julea Ward have done, we will ultimately see the end of religious liberty, free speech -- and a free society.
This article published on April 7, 2011.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.