Wednesday, November 01, 2017 by Ethan Huff
Kent State University in Ohio recently held a panel discussion on the difference between free speech and so-called “hate” speech, asking students and faculty members to chime in on their opinions of what differentiates the two. But in the process of promoting this event via Twitter, the school’s Center for Student Involvement took a jab at Christians, insinuating that their efforts in calling unbelievers to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ represent expressions of hate.
The controversial poster that was circulated by the Center for Student Involvement depicts silhouetted stick figures holding up various signs and banners bearing provocative messages like, “No More Gays,” “Women Need to Serve Their Man,” and “Build a Wall,” along with the question, “Free Speech or Hate Speech?” A fourth sign, an obvious outlier, is also seen in the poster bearing the words “You Need Jesus,” conveying a negative message about the Christian faith.
The panel discussion that this poster was promoting was part of Kent State’s “KENTTalks” initiative, a forum similar to the popular TEDTalk series that is supposedly aimed at “provid[ing] a safe place for discussions and transformational experiences for our student body,” as well as promoting “civil discourse.” But this safe space is apparently not intended for anyone of the Christian faith who holds an evangelical view of trying to bring others into the faith.
“The university should apologize because it appears to be targeted toward one political and religious side,” stated Jared Small, president of Campus Ministry International, a student organization at Kent State that ministers to students of the Christian faith, in an email to The College Fix. Speaking on behalf of himself and not his organization, Small added:
“They could have included hate speech against president Trump or hate speech against Christians as examples. In my opinion, free speech protects hate speech to an extent. However, the university appears to show a bias against Christians and conservatives.”
Professor Amy Reynolds, dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, was the moderator at the KENTTalks event promoted by the poster. When asked why it specifically singled out Christians and no other religious groups, she claimed she did not because she had no role in creating the posters, and that it was all handled by the Center for Student Involvement.
When The College Fix attempted to reach out to Eric Mansfield and Emily Vincent, the executive director and director of Kent State’s media relations, respectively, neither individual responded. The same was true for Kristan Dolan and Rick Danals, the assistant director and assistant dean of the Center for Student Involvement, respectively, neither of whom responded to questions about the poster.
Kent State’s unconcern with this blatant marginalization of the Christian faith says a lot about how the university views its students. The message of the school to its Christian students is this: If you express your faith, you’re automatically engaging in hate speech and you will not be treated with the same level of respect or dignity as other students who aren’t Christians.
You can be sure that heads would have rolled had the Center for Student Involvement included an image of a poster in its “hate” speech poster directed at Muslims. Folks likely would have been fired had the “You Need Jesus” sign been replaced with a phrase from the Koran that read “kill all the infidels.”
By remaining silent on this matter, Kent State is complicit in the type of anti-Christian violence that took place back in 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. As you may recall, a shooter stormed the campus and demanded that students identify their religion on the spot. If they said Christian, they were reportedly executed on the spot with a bullet to the head. This is the type of violence that Kent State is promoting by labeling expressions of the Christian faith as “hate” speech.
Sources for this article include: