Ephraim, Utah — A Christian club at a college in Utah has dropped its lawsuit after school officials agreed to change their policies to protect religious freedom.
As previously reported, Solid Rock Christian Club at Snow College in Ephraim filed suit last year after it was informed by an official that “due to an internal audit, funding will not be allowed for religious organizations.” According to reports, a change had been made to the student handbook, which outlined that clubs could not be affiliated with commercial enterprises or religious institutions.
Solid Rock Christian Club stated that in denying the student group recognition and funding, the school had also deprived the club of the right to reserve facilities without charge and to advertise events on campus. It also alleged constitutional infringements for favoring some groups over others.
Additionally, the club outlined that the college told the group that they could not draw crosses or otherwise write religious messages as part of the “Paint the Town” homecoming event, which involved decorating the windows of participating businesses.
As they began to decorate one building, they were reportedly told to stop, stating that students could not “paint any religious symbols or anything related to religion.” Officials also removed the message “The cross covers sin then, now, and forever” from the window of another business, stating that it was “in poor taste.”
However, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal organization representing the students, the college has changed several of its policies to ensure that religious freedom is protected.
“Colleges are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” stated ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “Snow College has done the right thing in recognizing that the First Amendment protects the freedom of all students to gather with those of like mind and to express their ideas, and that includes students of faith and religious ideas.”
The settlement states that Snow College has agreed “not to adopt or enforce the provisions of the old policies…that deny student organizations ‘associated with religious institutions’ the privileges afforded other student organizations.” It also advises that officials “have already implemented [the] revised policies … and have published them to Snow College students on April 1, 2013.”
Additionally, the college agreed to pay attorney’s fees for the costs of the litigation, along with $800 to Solid Rock Christian club. The students consented to drop the suit since it is now moot.
Solid Rock Christian Club is affiliated with Tri-Grace Ministries, and is stated to be the only Christian group on campus. According to the ministry website, “Tri-Grace owns and operates the college house facility on the southwest corner of the Snow campus that is: 1) home of Solid Rock Café, 2) hosts events for the Solid Rock Christian Club, 3) provides rentals for young-married students, 4) boards Christian interns, and 5) houses the Tri-Grace Ministries’ offices.”
Tri-Grace Ministries focuses on reaching Mormons in Utah with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.