A Catholic student at Florida State University says a student mob demanded his ouster from the student senate after he scrutinized the policy views of the Black Lives Matter organization.
According to Catholic News Agency, Jack Denton, who is set to graduate from FSU in 2021, said the student senate voted to oust him over what he said in a group text in an exchange about the stated beliefs of groups like BLM, Reclaim the Block, and the ACLU that pertain to abortion, sexuality and the family.
In the group text for members of the FSU Catholic Student Union, students chatted about the police shooting of a 38-year-old black transgender-identifying female named Tony McDade.
Denton told CNA that when someone advocated the causes students could support financially to back racial justice efforts, he explained that the positions taken by the organizations were at odds with Church teaching. Screenshots of the exchange reveal Denton stated that the organizations advocate "explicitly anti-Catholic" things."
“As a devout Catholic and a college student, I felt that it was my responsibility to point out this discrepancy, to make sure that my fellow Catholics knew what they were partaking in,” he said.
When asked to elaborate, Denton noted that the ACLU has sued states that place limits on abortion and it defends laws protecting abortion clinics. He added that BLM defends transgender ideology and fosters a "queer-affirming network." He also said that though it is less explicit than the other issues, Reclaim the Block pushes cutting the budgets of police departments and claims fewer cops will make communities safe, a position he considered "contrary to the Church's teaching on the common good.”
Despite Denton maintaining he was not remarking in his capacity as a student government officer, a student in the text exchange sent screenshots of Denton's comments to members of the student senate without his permission. Though an initial motion to bring up a no-confidence vote in the student senate failed on June 3, two days later, the body voted to oust him from his role.
A change.org petition that was circulated alleged that Denton's comments were "transphobic" and "racist." A June 4 column in Spire, a student-run magazine at the university, said Denton “holds values which are antithetical to FSU’s anti-discrimination policy and could make our school’s most marginalized students feel unwelcome and unsafe.”
The piece in Spire also accused him, a white man, of "attempting to use his religious identification as a cover for bigotry and cannot be let off the hook.”
Denton told CNA that the incident sets a bad precedent and is concerned for the future of Catholic students. He's now contesting the student senate's vote.
“They did this because of the outcry,” he said. “It was quite scary to witness how this mob could influence all these senators in two days to just switch their vote and remove me as president, for being Catholic.”
Denton stressed that his scruples are not with black lives mattering but with the specific organization and the push to fund it.
“Let me make it unequivocally clear that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ the statement, the sentiment, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said.
The FSU junior is now being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has formally appealed to the supreme court of the school's Student Government Association, arguing that his removal not only violated his First Amendment rights but the student senate and university rules. Denton is asking to be reinstated as student senate president.
Denton's ouster is not the only incident of pushback against people who voice criticisms of the Black Lives Matter organization.
As The Christian Post reported earlier this month, members of the Cornell Black Law Students Association penned a letter to the law school community calling on students not to take courses by professor William A. Jacobson. The letter claims that Jacobson has engaged in “anti-black rhetoric” by pointing out that the BLM organization is “Marxist” in nature and aims to “tear down our society.”
Jacobson subsequently responded to the BLSA letter in a blog post, noting that their claims are “false and misleading” and that the boycott call came after he offered to debate them.