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University Targets Christian Student, Pays the Price - Don Dresden - 08-01-2023

Quote:University Targets Christian Student, Pays the Price When She Takes It to Court

By Peter Partoll  July 29, 2023 at 11:03am

Officials at a college in Illinois are facing the consequences after a Christian student sued them for violating her First Amendment rights.

In February 2022, Maggie DeJong, a grad student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, was hit with no-contact orders from the university barring her from communicating with three students who had complained about her expressing her conservative Christian beliefs.

While the orders were rescinded after SIUE received a letter from DeJong’s attorney, they were later reinstated. As a result, DeJong took the university to court with the help of the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Now, ADF is reporting victory for DeJong, and SIUE is being forced to pay up for violating her right to free speech.

As part of the settlement reached between the parties, ADF attorneys will be conducting a “First Amendment training session” with three SIUE professors, according to an ADF news release.
University officials also agreed to revise their policies to allow for freedom of expression in the art therapy program, which DeJong was a part of, and to pay her $80,000.

ADF legal counsel Matthew Hoffman celebrated the ruling in a statement.

“Public universities can’t punish students for expressing their political and religious viewpoints,” he said.

“Maggie, like every other student, is protected under the First Amendment to respectfully share her personal beliefs, and university officials were wrong to issue gag orders and silence her speech.

“As a result of Maggie’s courage in filing suit, SIUE has agreed to take critical steps to comply with the law and the U.S. Constitution and move closer to accepting and embracing true diversity of thought and speech.”

DeJong’s story should serve as a warning to college administrators, but also as a message of hope for conservative students.

There is a war on Christianity and conservatism taking place in higher education, as almost all universities are under leftist control. Given the left’s indifference to the Constitution, they will go to great lengths to censor dissenting opinions.

Christian students who attend these universities should expect to be mistreated by classmates and officials for expressing their beliefs. They should not be surprised when they are faced with a situation similar to DeJong’s — although her lawsuit will hopefully deter the more overt forms of suppression.

We would do well to remember the words of Christ in the Gospel of John: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

But this story also reminds us that when Christians stand firm in their beliefs, they can win victories even in our day and age. DeJong stood up to her school’s unjust policies and came out on top.

Conservatives cannot be passive victims of leftist aggression. They need to be willing to fight back and show them that there will be consequences for their unconstitutional actions.

If other college students can be as brave as Maggie DeJong, then the left will be forced to back down from its radical tactics.