When a fraternity at the University of Tennessee was told to take down their Christmas decorations because the school wanted to remain religiously neutral, they responded by putting something else up, instead.
Clayton Dorman, 21, is a junior and belongs to Christian fraternity Upsilon Chi. “I think the guidelines are ludicrous,” Dorman told WKRN.
The group of students had adorned their fraternity house with holiday lights and typical Christmas decorations. However, school officials told the young men that their ornaments were against the rules. The guidelines were created to “ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”
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“It’s my God-given right to be able to have a Christmas party and telling me I can’t do that just really sent me over the edge,” said Dorman.
So he devised a bold plan to fight against campus rules by displaying a banner on the side of his frat house, according to Mad World News.
The sign read “Come and take it” below a hand-drawn Christmas tree. He tweeted a picture -- which has since been removed -- of him and two other friends standing on top of the banner, prompting a heated debate.
“The response has been more than I can imagine. I like to imagine that I am the voice for the silent majority,” said Dorman.
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Despite some students claiming the rules target Christians, others say they’ve had no issues celebrating Christmas.
“I don’t feel persecuted at all. I don’t feel like my rights are infringed upon at all. We had a Christmas party on Wednesday and we’re going to have worship on Sunday,” said Pastor John Tirro of Tyson House, a Christian campus ministry.
Tirro even wrote a letter to politicians who have criticized the rules: “Please calm down, have a cookie, and know that Christmas is safe and well at the University of Tennessee.”
“We’ve got crosses everywhere and we talk about Jesus all the time and nobody sets us on fire and nobody threatens us with losing our jobs,” said Tirro.
This isn’t the first time the University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion has faced backlash. In August 2015, the school enacted gender-neutral pronouns on their website, which were eventually removed.