Increasingly in the United States, religious freedom is being denied to Americans in their work place, at businesses, during public gatherings, and in holiday displays. A recent hotbed of anti-Christian activity is in tax-funded universities, where freedom of speech, including the free exercise of religion as specifically guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, is being trampled upon by intolerant groups.
The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), a school located in a region informally known as The Bible Belt, has booted Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, from speaking on the Edmond campus next month. UCO has reneged on a contract it signed that allowed Ken to give a talk on March 5. Ken’s presentation in the school’s Constitution Hall, titled “Genesis and the State of the Culture,” was objectionable to a campus LGBT group, which put heavy pressure on the UCO Student Association (UCOSA) to cancel Ken’s speaking engagement. In his proposed talk at UCO , Ken would have discussed the two different worldviews and their starting points when interpreting scientific evidence, as he did in his classic evolution/creation debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” four years ago.
Paul Blair, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, and who worked through a campus group to arrange to have Ken appear in Constitution Hall (and was successful initially), has agreed to let Ken speak instead at his church near the UCO campus on March 5.
Here is a copy of the press release distributed by Pastor Blair to the media this morning:
UCO RESCINDS INVITE TO CHRISTIAN SPEAKER
February 6, 2018
(Edmond, OK) -- Nationally renowned Christian speaker and author, Ken Ham, has been uninvited from a scheduled forum at the University of Central Oklahoma. Ham had planned to speak about the science behind Darwinian ideas, but objections from a campus LGBT group prompted UCO to cancel.Since the doors of our public university are closed, we will open our doors for interested students and members of our community to hear what Ken has to share.
“Since the doors of our public university are closed, we will open our doors for interested students and members of our community to hear what Ken has to share,” says Paul Blair, Pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond. “I am greatly disappointed that a university that boasts of being ‘discrimination free’ on its website openly discriminates against the free speech rights of Christians on the campus.”
Ken Ham is a highly respected and sought-after international speaker and the founder of the world-renowned Creation Museum near Cincinnati.
Despite a speaking invitation from the UCO student government and a contract with the university, Ham was told last month he is no longer welcome. Instead, Ham will give his presentation at Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond.
“It’s another case where the First Amendment seems to exist everywhere except on college campuses,” declared Pastor Blair. “According to its Campus Expression Policy, UCO is committed to ‘fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged’. But apparently that only applies to speech that echoes specific beliefs. The irony is, the groups promoting ‘tolerance’ are the most intolerant forces on campus.”
Ken Ham will be speaking at 6:30 PM, Monday, March 5, at Fairview Baptist Church, 1230 N. Sooner Road, in Edmond. Admission is free, but seating is limited to the first 500 attendees.
You can read the contract that was torn up by UCO officials.
Ham noted that
religious liberty in America is under increasing attack by some very intolerant people. In this case of discrimination, I find it highly ironic that after being scheduled to speak in the school’s Constitution Hall, our constitutional right to free speech and the free exercise of religion, guaranteed under the First Amendment, have been denied with the school’s cancellation. Small but vocal groups on campus put up a fuss about my talk, and the university caved in, tearing up the contract and contradicting its own policies of promoting “free inquiry” and “inclusiveness” on campus. Apparently, free speech at UCO is protected only if it is the “right kind” of speech.
Pastor Blair presented AiG with a chronology of the events that led up to Ham’s cancellation:
Our church has a campus student ministry called Valid Worldview. They have had an impact on many UCO students, including those in student government.
As such, the UCOSA (University of Central Oklahoma Student Association) asked me if we could get Ken Ham to appear at UCO. I reached out to Ken and the event was successfully scheduled. UCOSA initially had to fight the university to secure permission, but prevailed.
Recently, a tenured professor, who serves as sponsor of the campus LGBT clubs, rallied support and put intense pressure on the students in the UCOSA to rescind the invitation, which they reluctantly did. This is another case of bullying by those that decry intolerance.
However, there is more spice in the background. Our kids were shocked to learn that a Drag Queen Show has been sponsored by the university and received university funding. The university logo was placed on promotional materials. (Here is one image; we caution you about children seeing this image.)
This tenured professor, who organized the resistance against Ken, also sponsors a Safe Sex Carnival. Their Facebook page showed, among other things, learning games where UCO students could throw [word deleted] at cardboard cutouts of [words deleted].
[Editor’s note: We urge strong caution as you open the following links, where you will see some vile images; they are presented—should you choose to view them—in order to give you an idea of what is happening in our tax-supported schools.]
Pastor Blair concluded, “As we point out the obvious discrimination against Christianity on campus, I also am hoping to outrage the citizens of Oklahoma. Why are our tax dollars being spent on this garbage? Where is the accountability and oversight of higher ed? We are not Cal-Berkeley; we are Oklahoma.”
UCO claims that it “is committed to an inclusive educational” environment.
Pastor Blair further pointed out that as the university canceled Ken Ham’s lecture, it violated its own school policies. UCO claims that it “is committed to an inclusive educational” environment,1 and in its “Campus Expression Policy,” the university declares that it “is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged. The University is a diverse community based on free exchange of ideas.”2
Today, the civil liberties of Christians are continually being trampled upon in America. In nearly every sector of US society, there are attacks against religious freedom. Recent examples include the following:
A school employee was banned from saying “I will pray for you” in private conversations at work.
Ten Commandment displays and nativity scenes are being stripped from public places.
Cheerleaders have been banned from painting Scripture verses on cheer banners.
Though houses of worship were prohibited from receiving aid from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Trump Administration recently ended this policy. (We’re thankful for positive changes).
High school seniors who are Christians have been instructed to censor their graduation remarks.
A church was told it cannot share community event information with students because fliers are too religious.
Courts have been ordering the removal of crosses.
The popular documentary film Expelled highlighted how Darwin-doubters have been persecuted in academia, including losing their jobs.
Throughout its history, Answers in Genesis has come under attack for its Christian beliefs. Even before we opened the Creation Museum in 2007, AiG received tremendous opposition when an atheist organization with the ironic name of Free Inquiry Group tried to stop our privately funded museum from being built on private property. A few years ago, AiG had to take the former Kentucky governor and his administration to federal court to preserve our constitutionally guaranteed religious rights, and thankfully we won.
The belief of a “separation of church and state” (a phrase found nowhere in the US Constitution) has been used as a justification to eliminate Christianity from the public arena and be replaced by the anti-God religion of secular humanism.
Continue to pray with us that the religious liberties of Americans will be protected and not eroded further. Pray for our leaders—national, state, and local—as we are commanded to do in 1 Timothy 2, including those at universities as they consider policies that can undermine academic freedom.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.