Lawsuit Against Colorado College Triggered By Religious Inscription On Locker Plaque

| by Jordan Smith

Colorado School of Mines (CSM), a state engineering college in Golden, Colorado, is being taken to court by a former student for its refusal to display a Bible verse on a locker plaque.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Alliance Defending Freedom group, CBS Local reported.

Mike Lucas, who graduated from the college in 2003,played for the football team and responded to a request for donations to pay for the new sports complex. By donating $2,500, Lucas could have his name, number and any phrase he wanted printed on a plaque on one of the lockers.

Lucas requested the locations of two Bible passages, Colossians 3:23 and Micah 5:9, to be printed on the plaque, not the verses themselves.

CSM refused, citing the separation of church and state guaranteed in the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

“The Colorado School of Mines seems to be more interested in silencing or censoring speech that they don’t agree with and specifically religious speech,” ADF attorney Natalie Decker said, according to CBS Local.

“The school initially imposed no restrictions—or even guidelines—on the type of message a donor could include, and contrary to what the school is arguing, the First Amendment protects—not restricts—a simple reference to a Bible verse,” Decker added in a press release, Campus Reform reported. “It’s patently ridiculous to argue that a Bible reference that doesn’t include the text of the verse is somehow inappropriate simply because someone might look it up and see that ‘Lord’ is mentioned there.”

CSM continues to defend its decision.

“We strongly disagree with his assertion that Mines impermissibly restricted his speech based on religious or viewpoint discrimination,” Karen Gilbert, director of public relations at CSM, said, adding, “under recent United States Supreme Court case law, the speech at issue is considered government speech as it is permanently inscribed on university-owned property. As a state institution, we are bound by the U.S. Constitution and our own policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination by promoting or supporting one faith or belief over others.”

CSM had agreed with Lucas to display the text of Micah 5:9, without reference to where it comes from.

“Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed,” the verse reads, according to CBS Local.

“We are disappointed to learn of Mr. Lucas’ lawsuit against Colorado School of Mines,” Gilbert added, Campus Reform reported. “We worked with him to come to an agreement on an inscription that both reflected his intentions and was consistent with our obligations as a public university.”

ADF is not asking for punitive measures to be taken but instead wants the court to issue an injunction compelling CSM to accept Lucas’ original proposal.

Sources: CBS Local, Campus Reform/ photo credit: CBS Local