Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Graduation Censorship: Student Prohibitted from Thanking Jesus

Another case of graduation censorship has cropped up, this time at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The student is Christina Popa, who wanted to include these words in her graduation speech: "I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." Other students will be permitted to have their speeches read aloud, but Christina's will be read only if she omits the reference to Jesus Christ. The professor who told her this said, “If you prefer, Christina, I can read none of what you wrote. I am very sorry that this is a problem for you.” The professor further said, “UCLA is a public university where the doctrine of separation of church and state is observed…”

Separation of church and state? Surely she is referring to the First Amendment's Establish Clause, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion;..." UCLA is not Congress. It is not even the state's Congress. Reading a speech of a student's own words is hardly creating a law. How could an educated person think that reading the speech would be unconstitutional?

The professor also mentioned that the speech could be read if the writer thanked "God" in general, but not Jesus Christ specifically. And speeches with no reference to a god could be read. So this speech is being censored based solely on religious content.

What a sad lesson this is to learn as one graduates from college. At some point in history U.S. colleges were bastions of free speech and diversity of opinion. This seems to be less true each year. Foreign dictators are welcome to speak at college assemblies, but military recruiters may not come on campus to talk to students. (That is especially ironic considering the federal government provides a great deal of money to most schools, and considering that keeping them off campus is actually breaking federal law.)

Read the graduation story here:
U.S. University Prohibits Thanking Jesus At Graduation

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