A Colorado college is banning all locker room nameplates in its gym to avoid allowing people to include Bible verses on the plates, despite perviosuly allowing phrases like "Give 'em Hell" and "Take your whiskey clear."
Colorado School of Mines in Golden was sued last year when it refused to allow a donor to include references to Colossians 3:23 and Micah 5:9 on a nameplate.
Last Friday the Alliance Defending Freedom, which sued the school over the censorship of the Bible references, officially withdrew its legal action against the School of Mines.
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement that the move was an example of collective punishment for all speech on campus.
"Public colleges are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but the School of Mines has indicated it prefers anti-religious hostility," stated Langhofer.
"It's ridiculous and sad that the school felt the need to punish everyone who participated in the program simply because it could not stomach a Bible reference on one plaque — a reference that was not even going to include the text of the verses."
Last October the ADF sued the School of Mines on behalf of graduate Michael Lucas, who played on the school's football team from 1998 to 2002.
"Michael Lucas wanted the plaque recognizing a $2,500 donation he made to be inscribed with 'Colossians 3:23' and 'Micah 5:9,' but not the language from them," reported the AP in October.
"The Colorado School of Mines said the inclusion of the verse names would violate the separation of church and state, according a lawsuit filed in Denver federal court …"
The ADF and Lucas argued that the School was being religiously intolerant, arguing that other nameplates included phrases like "Give 'em Hell" and "Take your whiskey clear."
"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," stated ADF Legal Counsel Natalie Decker.
"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."
In December, School of Mines President Paul C. Johnson sent Lucas a letter informing him that the college had opted to remove all nameplates from the lockers.
"Mines never intended for the new locker room to be a public forum for individual expression, nor do we believe anyone could reasonably assert that a private locker room would be viewed as a public space," wrote Johnson.
"As a result, the university has decided to cancel the original football locker fundraising program, remove all existing plaques, and replace them with new plaques. All plaques have been removed, whether or not they contained a quote."