East main University in Oklahoma may eventually have to eliminate Christian symbols from their non-denominational chapel, but that potential outcome is a lengthy ways off.

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Published23 august 2017

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East central University has been required to eliminate a cross and other Christian symbols from your chapel.

What"s TrueA secularist team asked East main University to eliminate Christian-specific signs from your chapel, and also the college temporarily agreed prior to reversing your decision. If the team pursues legit action, a successful lawsuit might potentially pressure East central University to remove the icons for good.

What"s False

No legal activity has to be initiated East main University end the issue, and also no court order has actually been authorize forcing East central University to eliminate Christian symbols. As of 23 respectable 2017, the symbols have been revived to the chapel (including a cross the was never ever removed in the first place).

During the summer the 2017, controversy and also confusion surrounding a chapel located on the campus of East central University, a public institution in Ada, Oklahoma, about a request from a secularist team that the school remove a cross and also other Christian-specific icons from the university’s chapel. The instance has been gone after in certain by local pastor Randall Christy, and also the confusion has actually stemmed from part misconceptions around the group behind the request and the denominational standing of the chapel.

Some readers complying with this story show up to think the company that requested the removed of the icons is an anti-Christian one or a “hate group” (it is not), when others appear not to recognize that the chapel is non-denominational and therefore not particularly a Christian facility. Together of this composing (23 august 2017), East central University has not been required to eliminate a overcome or any kind of other Christian symbols from their chapel (although they did temporarily agree to eliminate some the the signs before transforming their minds and also restoring them), however it’s feasible that future legit proceedings (if initiated) could require castle to execute so.

On 20 June 2017, the group Americans unified for Separation that Church and also State wrote to East main University (ECU) president Katricia Pierson, asking her to remove spiritual Christian-specific icons from permanent display screen in the chapel ~ above the basis that the chapel is a state-owned property situated on the campus the a windy university:

We have actually received a complain that East main University’s Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel has permanent religious iconography top top display. These display screens include Latin crosses on the height of and also inside the building, Bibles, and a Christian altar. While that is legal for a public college to have actually a space that deserve to be used by college student for religious worship so long as that space is not dedicated solely to the purpose, it is a violation that the facility Clause of the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to display spiritual iconography on federal government property.

The university partially acceded to this request, remove a Christian altar, a crucifix, bibles, and also hymnals from the inner of the chapel. However, on 30 June 2017, ECU announced that they would be halting the further removal of various other Christian symbols from the chapel and would create a committee come determine how to proceed:

We relocated too quickly. We regret no taking time come pause and also thoughtfully consider the request and also the outcomes of our actions on every one of the students, faculty and also community members that we serve. 

This needs a more thoughtful and deliberate method to the request. That will certainly be our next step. ECU will certainly not take further action until the committee has had ample time to discuss and establish policies or accuse for religious expressions in the art, history, architecture, study and also areas of prayer on campus.

A spokesperson because that ECU evidenced to united state that administrators had since revived to the chapel all the items that had actually initially to be removed.

On 5 July 2017, Oklahoma state Attorney-General Mike Hunter wrote to the head that the local University device of Oklahoma asking the the issue be described the attorney General’s office, suggesting that:

I am writing to do it clear the the United states Constitution does not call for Oklahoma’s public universities to efface structure features or remove other items simply since they are linked to spiritual expression or heritage. The supreme Court has actually made the clear the the establishment Clause does not require government institutions to take on an mindset of hostility come religion, spiritual symbols, or religious people …

As the State’s chief legal officer, i am committed to giving all legal resources necessary to represent and also vigorously safeguard ECU and also the State of Oklahoma in the event a lawsuit is filed. The highest possible priority must be inserted on ensuring the defense that Oklahomans’ religious freedom under the law. 

The adhering to day, ECU announced that state Attorney basic Mike Hunter had actually taken jurisdiction end the matter.

A spokesperson because that Americans united for Separation of Church and also State confirmed that the team would be taking further action on the Boswell Chapel case, and listed us through the reason behind their request.

Our legal room is functioning on the … I think they’re proceeding the exchange that letters with the lawyer General’s office.

This is a public university. It’s not a private spiritual college … We’re not suggesting that it’s unconstitutional for a public college to have a chapel, because a many them do. But they commonly don’t have religious symbols fixed to castle permanently.

Normally what happens with a chapel is it’s open up to lots of different religious, and perhaps also non-religious, groups. And those organizations lug their religious symbols and display castle temporarily when they’re having a religious service and also they take them through them once they’re gone. 

The totality idea of a chapel is that it’s supposed to be non-denominational and also inter-faith, and also our dispute is that displaying a huge Christian overcome on a building in a public college is a violation that the separation the church and state.

So East main University has actually only to be asked to remove the cross and other Christian symbols from their chapel. While the school originally agreed to eliminate some items, they have actually since restored those items to the chapel and transferred taking care of of the problem to the Oklahoma lawyer General’s office in anticipation that a sue by Americans united for Separation of Church and State.

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If such a lawsuit proceeded (which appears quite possible in this case), and a court agreed v Americans United, East main University would be required to either remove the symbols from the chapel or appeal the case. Ultimately, it is possible that a commonwealth court of final recourse (which can be the United states Supreme Court, but may not be) might definitively force ECU to eliminate the cross and also other signs for good.