An advocacy group for separation of church and state is stirring up a whole lot of controversy at East Central University in Oklahoma. They want to see the campus chapel cross removed, along with any other religious symbols including Bibles. But a local pastor is urging all Christians to take a stand against these ludicrous demands!
East Central University (ECU) opened the doors to the Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel in 1957. The chapel itself is open to all faiths. Still, the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent a letter complaining about the "religious iconography" found in and around the building.
The Washington, DC based group argues the items violate federal law. And they want to see it all removed, including the campus chapel cross sitting atop the steeple.
The letter from the group's attorney states:
"We have received a complaint that East Central University's Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel has permanent religious iconography on display. These displays include Latin crosses on the top of and inside the building, Bibles, and a Christian altar. While it is legal for a public university to have a space that can be used by students for religious worship so long as that space is not dedicated solely to that purpose, it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to display religious iconography on government property. Please remove or cover the religious displays and items."
Fox commentator Todd Starnes calls the letter "a great big load of legal malarkey."
The letter ordered the university to remove the campus chapel cross, along with any other religious symbols. Even Bibles! The group gave ECU 30 days to reply.
And at first, the legal bullying worked.
Pastor Makes A Public Plea
Fearful of a legal battle, the university initially planned to remove the items, promising to explore options for preserving them. But when Randall Christy caught wind of ECU's plans, the pastor of Union Valley Church and founder of The Gospel station turned to Facebook.
WATCH: Pastor Stands Up For Campus Chapel Cross
In a video viewed more than 10 million times, Randall urged all Christians to stand up for the cross.
"It's very disturbing to me and I just really believe that Christians need to rise up against this kind of thing in America," Randall said.
He went on to suggest that people simply don't really understand the true meaning of the cross. This, he says, is the reason it catches such controversy.
"There’s evidently a lot of people that believe the cross is excluding them, and it’s our job to let them know that’s not the case," he said. "The cross is inviting them, and this prayer place — Jesus said, ‘My house will be a place of prayer for all people.’ That’s what we believe because Jesus said it, and that’s what this was built for. The Boswell family built this chapel in memory of Mrs. Boswell because that’s how she believed."
Christians Outraged Over Demands
Randall was certainly not alone in his outrage. Many folks were furious to hear of the attack on the campus chapel.
“I feel betrayed by our own country, upset that this could take place in America,” alum Jill Tucker Brown said. “We are a nation founded on Christianity.”
"Why should thousands of Christians in Ada and Pontotoc County cater to the whims of a few, if there’s no violation of the First Amendment?" First Lutheran Church Pastor Gary Brandt asked. "To my knowledge, there are no chapel services held on campus. No one is commanded to enter the chapel or to read the Holy Bible or to worship any God."
But ECU no longer plans to give in to the advocacy group's demands. Thanks to the public outcry resulting from Randall's push, the university now has support from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.
"My office stands ready to defend the religious freedom of Oklahomans from misleading tactics such as the ones employed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State," Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.
As of yet, the group has not taken any legal action. But the university will have the Oklahoma Attorney General's office on its side should any other threats come.
Standing Up For The Cross
The Enemy works in many different ways. Christianity is clearly under attack. And it's awesome to see Christians like Randall find peaceful ways to make a stand.
“It takes a Christian standing up before things can change. We don’t have to have violent riots. We just stand up peaceably and tell people we care,” Randall said. “I know that this is just one cross. It’s a small cross on a small chapel, but it signifies that if we don’t take a stand for the small things, then pretty soon we’ll lose the big things.”
Keep praying, as cases like this are popping up all over the country!
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