Monday, May 30, 2016

The 3 - May 29, 2016

On this week's edition of The 3, highlighting 3 recent stories of relevance to the Christian community, there is information about a bill that has been signed into law by South Carolina's governor protecting pre-born children after the 20th week of pregnancy.  Also, states are fighting back against federal overreach regarding bathroom usage.  And, a major Christian university is taking steps to create a safer, more accountable environment for women after scandal has hit its football program.

3 - SC governor signs bill banning abortions after 20th week of pregnancy

There are now 14 states - approaching one-third of all the states in the union, who ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, the point at which scientific research has indicated that an unborn child can feel pain.

And, the decision to sign the bill by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, a Republican rising star who has even been mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate, is significant.

According to, the bill has exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy and when doctors determine that the unborn baby has a fatal defect and cannot survive outside the womb, the report states. The story says that according to WSOC News 9, doctors who violate the legislation could face fines of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison.

Carol Tobias, National Right to Life president, is quoted in the article as saying: “South Carolina now joins thirteen other states in recognizing the humanity of the unborn child,” adding, “The smallest and most vulnerable members of our human family need our protection, and South Carolina has taken a vital step to save unborn children who are capable of feeling the excruciating pain of abortion.”

2 - States sue Federal government over transgender bathroom directive

A group of states has filed a lawsuit against the Federal government's directive saying that transgender students should be able to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. reports that Texas and 10 other states filed suit this past Wednesday against the Obama administration over its directive on transgender student access to public school facilities.

The suit was filed in a Texas federal court in response to the directive. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in announcing the suit, said: “This represents just the latest example of the current administration’s attempts to accomplish by executive fiat what they couldn’t accomplish through the democratic process in Congress." Joining Texas were: Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona's Department of Education, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia.

The lawsuit says: "Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."

1 - Scandal at Christian university results in punishment for officials

Christians should be held to high standards of behavior, and that applies to Christian colleges and universities.

There's a school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas that, according to an independent investigation, had been granting special privileges to athletes when they committed sexual assault toward women.  And, this past week, leaders at the school faced punishment.

The Board of Regents at Baylor University in Waco, Texas issued an apology to "Baylor Nation," according to Christianity Today, and announced the following actions:  head football coach Art Briles was suspended with intent to terminate.  President and chancellor Ken Starr will lose the presidency but will continue as chancellor and a professor at the law school.  AD Ian McCaw will be sanctioned and put on probation.  Also, a full-time chief compliance officer will be hired and report directly to the president.

In general, the university failed to take appropriate action when it learned of incidents of sexual assault by football players and failed to provide an effective way to address student conduct issues. The report said that, "Actions by university administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault." In general, the culture was found to be inadequate - the article says that the board found that, "There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct."

The CT story said that the board mandated that the university “create and maintain a culture of high moral standards among student-athletes.”

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The 3 - May 22, 2016

On this week's edition of The 3, there is news out of Oklahoma that involves a strong pro-life bill that was vetoed by the governor.  Also, the U.S. Supreme Court made an unusual move of sending the cases dealing with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate back to the lower courts.  And, United Methodists have completed their gathering in Portland, which resulted in no legislative action on issues concerning homosexuality.

3 - OK legislature passes bill that would criminalize abortion, governor vetoes

After the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill making it a felony for physicians to perform abortions, one might assume that outspoken pro-life governor Mary Fallin would have signed the bill.  But, as The Stream reports, on Friday, the governor vetoed the bill, which would have effectively outlawed abortions in the state.

Governor Fallin said that she was rejecting the bill because it is “vague and would not withstand a criminal constitutional legal challenge.”  In her statement, she said: “The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother.'”

The bill, SB 1522, would have made it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for a physician to perform an abortion. The bill would exempt physicians who perform abortions to preserve the life of the mother.  Sponsor, Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, had said the measure was aimed at ultimately overturning Roe v. Wade.  The governor said she wanted to see that court ruling overturned, as well, but that the best way was the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the Supreme Court.

The bill passed the Senate on Thursday with a vote of 33-12 and the House in April by a 59-9 margin. The Oklahoma Legislature can override a veto by two-thirds vote of each house.

2 - U.S. Supreme Court sends contraception mandate cases back to lower courts

The U.S. Supreme Court made an unusual move earlier this week, sending the cases it was considering involving the contraceptive mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services back to the appeals courts from which they came. According to a report on the WORLD website, the high court said that a supplemental briefing indicated that the religious nonprofits and the federal government could work out their differences and find an acceptable accommodation to the mandate, which is part of Obamacare.

As the article pointed out, after the court heard oral arguments in March, it made a highly unusual request: asking the two sides to write briefs explaining an acceptable accommodation to the mandate. That request, according to the article, seemed to be a strategy to avoid a 4-4 tie after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

In the ruling on Monday, known as a per curiam ruling, the court did not issue an opinion on the merits of the case, which means it did not decide whether the federal government’s current mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A per curiam ruling is an unsigned opinion from the entire court.

Attorneys representing Little Sisters of the Poor and other plaintiffs in the case were encouraged. According to the WORLD story, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the Little Sisters as well as a number of other petitioners, declared the ruling a “win.” Alliance Defending Freedom, also representing some of the plaintiffs, said the court was right to protect nonprofits from fines for the time being and that the group would “look forward to addressing the remaining details.”

Emily Belz wrote the article for WORLD, and you can hear my conversation with her about this case, as well as presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump's list of recommended Supreme Court justices, here.

1 - United Methodists meet in Portland, sexuality issues off the table temporarily

Every four years, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets, as delegates from throughout the world gather to decide on church policy.  The church's stance on homosexuality has been an issue at the Conference for decades now, and there was anticipation about whether or not current language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline declaring homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teaching would be retained.

Religion News Service published a story on the General Conference. It reports that on Wednesday, delegates voted 428-405 to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss matters related to homosexuality, including whether or not to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.

According to the article, the bishops said they want the commission to “develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.”  Pressure from LGBT activists was very apparent this year - just before the conference, 111 United Methodist clergy came out as LGBT, and during the event, an additional 1,500 clergy expressed support for their colleagues.

But, year after year, conference after conference, the conservative and evangelical position seemingly continued to be in the majority.  There is mixed speculation about whether or not the recommendations of the panel would be brought to the 2020 General Conference or to a specially-called conference.

In examining some comments that have been made, it is clear to me that the denomination has three distinct factions at this point:  the progressives, who will seemingly accept nothing less than a sweeping acceptance of homosexual practice, ordination of gay clergy, and performance of same-sex marriage. There is also a group that seems to be sizable that would like to leave sexuality matters up to local authorities, perhaps on a district or conference level.  Then, there are the conservatives and evangelicals, including many from Africa, who want to hold to the view of marriage as one man for one woman, defining homosexuality as a practice that contradicts Scripture.

There was some good news on the pro-life front.  According to John Lomperis, who is the United Methodist Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.  He stated that the denomination...

...overwhelmingly voted to end our denomination’s scandalous 43-year affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), voted by an even larger margin to delete an official UMC resolution expressing appreciation for RCRC, and in other actions, we voted decisively to repeal a 40-year-old official “Responsible Parenthood” resolution very broadly defending abortion and endorsing the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, re-adopted a resolution decrying sex-selective abortion while describing abortion as “violent” and criticizing those done for “trivial reasons,” and allowed the expiration of a 16-year-old official UMC resolution bewailing an alleged “crisis” of some hospitals not offering abortions. 

To access a report from The Meeting House radio program from the President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Mark Tooley, click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The 3 - May 15, 2016

On this week's edition of The 3, spotlight 3 recent stories of relevance to the Christian community, it's graduation time, and seems like we hear consistently about free speech rights being limited concerning graduations ceremonies - find out about a school district in Ohio that will no longer have the singing of The Lord's Prayer in a ceremony.  Also, a ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court indicates that a pre-born child has rights.  And, the big story from this week involves an Obama administration edict stating that transgender students are allowed to use the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender identity, opening the doors to restrooms that are not sufficiently separated by gender.

3 - School board ignites graduation prayer controversy in Ohio 

In East Liverpool, Ohio, the song, The Lord's Prayer, has been a part of the graduation ceremony for the past ten years at a local high school, but after last year's event, the Freedom from Religion Foundation received a complaint and contacted the school district, where officials decided to drop the song from the program to avoid a potential legal battle, according to a story on the website.

The article reports that there was never any official vote on the matter nor public meeting about the issue, and the song was not fully discussed among the board until recently when members exchanged emails with each other about the issue. Board member Patricia Persohn, in correspondence obtained by The Review, said, “I am hearing parents threatening to withdraw their students. I was elected to represent the views of the community, and they are screaming,” adding, “I do believe it is just a matter of time before we are engaged in a fight. We need to set this issue aside right now and move on.”

The school board held a meeting recently, but no action was taken regarding the song. The choir director asserted that such songs are not illegal if they have educational value and relayed that her students are disappointed that the Lord’s Prayer will not be a part of the program this year, including one who identifies as an atheist. The superintendent said, "I am a Christian and it hurts me that there is even a question about it, but as superintendent, I have to put that aside. As you said, we can’t make it legal. I’m just sorry this is happening."

This is the time of year where there is a debate about religious expression in graduation ceremonies, and while I have not found a Christian legal advocacy group involved in this matter - yet - you can see where students do have constitutionally-protected free speech rights. The First Liberty Institute website states that: "As long as the valedictorian, salutatorian, president, or other students selected to write speeches are chosen by neutral criteria such as their academic achievements, the students have the right to reference what is important to them in their speeches, including their faith. Students maintain control over the content of their speeches, not the school board."

The site says that according to the U.S Department of Education, “Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, that expression is not attributed to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.”

2 - Iowa supreme court determines unborn children have same rights as minors

There was an interesting decision about the rights of pre-born children issued by the Iowa Supreme Court recently.  According to a story on the WORLD website, in a case involving the death of a drug addict who was trying to get his addiction under control and died of an accidental overdose, the court found in favor of Brenna Gray, who had sued her husband’s physician and other medical providers. She claimed they failed to monitor her husband’s drug addiction treatment properly.  Even though a jury had cleared the doctor of criminal charges, Mrs. Gray claimed a spousal consortium injury and, on behalf of her then-unborn daughter, a parental consortium injury, which includes the loss of parental “support, companionship, aid, affection, comfort, and guidance.”  The spousal injury case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired, but the parental consortium case was allowed to continue.

Borrowing from a pro-life argument, the plaintiff's attorneys pointed out that a ruling against the child “would permit a child who was just seconds old at the time of [her] parent’s death to sue, yet prevent the same suit from a child who was born a second after [her] parent passed away.”  The Iowa Supreme Court, clearing the way for the lawsuit to go forward, ruled the law does apply to preborn children.  In its decision, it wrote, “[A] child conceived but not yet born at the time of [her] parent’s death can bring a parental consortium claim” after she is born.  It said, “Whatever deprivation of consortium O.D.G. is currently experiencing is no less real just because she did not experience it in utero.”  (O.D.G. refers to the child.)

The WORLD report pointed out that the court, using strong language, attempted to sidestep the implication of its decision on the legality of abortion, explaining it ruled for the plaintiff simply because the petition, filed when the child was 3 years old, was “clearly ‘brought on behalf of a minor.’”

Clarke Forsythe, acting president and senior counsel for Americans United for Life, said he wasn’t surprised by the court’s decision.  He is quoted as saying, “The case is not huge and not unprecedented...But it does confirm that the unborn child is a human being in the womb.”

1 - Administration issues sweeping changes allowing transgender access to restrooms opposite of biological gender

This past week, the Departments of Justice and Education issued a letter to every public school district in the nation saying that under Federal law, transgender students must be allowed to use the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender identity, rather than their biological gender. reported that the letter was signed by officials of the two Federal departments.

As Todd Starnes commented on the website:

Boys who identify as girls and vice versa must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms and shower stalls of their choosing. They must also be allowed to play on the sports teams of their choosing.

School districts that dare defy the administration’s directives could face lawsuits and lose millions of dollars in federal funding. Resistance, in other words, is futile.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.

Starnes quoted from Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, who said, "It’s an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, upon human sexuality and morality and a further advancement of the flagrant attack on religious freedom in our culture."

The story said that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to fight the administration’s decree, telling a gathering of Republicans, “Obama is turning bathrooms into courtroom issues.”  He added, "Our country is in crisis and Texas must lead the way forward."  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings if the President goes forward with the order.

“The administration’s new guidelines simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already—that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims. This is precisely why we have filed two federal lawsuits, one in Illinois and one in North Carolina, on behalf of students and parents who are understandably concerned about their children. Solutions exist to accommodate everyone without violating anyone’s privacy rights, but the administration won’t entertain those solutions because of its preference to unlawfully impose its political will through threats and intimidation.”

Monday, May 09, 2016

The 3 - May 8, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting 3 recent stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes a number of Christian schools who have been highlighted because of their policies regarding sexuality.  Also, Alabama's Chief Justice is under fire because of his actions consistent with a Biblical worldview on sexuality.  And, the Federal government issued an ultimatum on the North Carolina transgender bathroom law.

3 - U.S. Department of Education releases list of colleges and universities seeking exemption from LGBT-friendly policies

In 1972, the Federal government enacted what is known as Title IX, that was intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, according to a WORLD Magazine story, which points out that for years, the law was used primarily to give women equal access to intercollegiate sports.  But, in 2014, without a Congressional action, the Department of Education expanded the definition to include gender identity.   As a result, schools need to accommodate men who identify as women—granting them access to female housing or even permission to compete on female sports teams if they choose.

And, this past week, the U.S. Department of Education publicly released a list of Christian schools who are seeking Title IX exemptions over their views on transgenderism, as the WORLD piece says, "placing the spotlight on each college and university seeking to hold true to a biblical worldview on gender and sexuality."  Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, one of the schools on the list, is quoted as saying: “Yes, we filed for the exemption and we are proud of it,” adding, "nothing will change for us. We are compliant with a biblical worldview and to do anything else would be false advertising for our students."

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), which represents 152 North American institutions, responded by saying that the list merely affirms which schools are taking advantage of provisions already laid out by lawmakers. In a statement, the CCCU said, "The real story is why some are trying to penalize religious colleges for simply following the law."

The Christian Post reports that as of April 1, as many as 232 colleges have obtained exemption from Title IX while 31 requests are pending, according to the list posted on the education depaartment's website on Friday, April 29.  The article reports that, "The religious exemption states: 'Title IX does not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization to the extent that application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.'"  The article points out that an exemption is automatic for any school which requests it.

2 - Alabama chief justice faces charges from commission over gay marriage actions

The Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama, which was, according to the state judiciary's website, "created under the provisions of the Alabama Constitution, is charged with investigating complaints of misconduct or professional wrongdoing on the part of judges," has filed a complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, according to a press release from Liberty Counsel, which is representing the Chief Justice.  The website states that:

The charges focus solely on his Administrative Order issued in January 2016, in which he wrote that the 2015 orders of the Alabama Supreme Court remained in effect until the Court further indicates otherwise. Chief Justice Moore did not participate in the 2015 orders, which ruled that the Probate Judges must uphold the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act.

The Liberty Counsel website quotes Chief Justice Moore as saying, "The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over the Administrative Orders of the Chief Justice of Alabama or the legal injunction of the Alabama Supreme Court prohibiting probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.".

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said that "the JIC has once again veered from its duty and now seeks to resolve a legal dispute that can only be resolved by the Alabama Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court."  Staver, who called the Commission's action, "outrageous," pointed out that, "Earlier this year a federal Court of Appeals and three federal District Courts rendered the same opinion as Chief Justice Moore about how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage opinion."

1 - Department of Justice issues ultimatum to North Carolina about bathroom law

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is taking aim at North Carolina's new transgender bathroom law, HB2.  The Christian Examiner reports that in a letter to Governor Pat McCrory, the DOJ claims the state and the governor are in breach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, according to the letter, prohibits discrimination against transgenders.

The letter charges that, "the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you [the governor], in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies."

The DOJ also gave the state a deadline: "Please advise the Department, therefore, no later than close of business on May 9, 2016, whether you will remedy these violations of Title VII, including by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement H.B. 2, and that it has notified employees of the State and public agencies that, consistent with federal law, they are permitted to access bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity."

The governor issued a statement in response, saying, in part, that the Obama administration claims "one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law."  He accused the administration of staking out a position for not only North Carolina, but for all states, universities, and most employers in the U.S. He added, "The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy."  At the time, McCrory said the state would review the law and determine its next steps.  The state could lose federal funding if it does not act.

And, just as in the Title IX situation mentioned earlier, the article points out that the definitions section of Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include "gender identity" as a class, but in the regulations adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year, extra-legal non-discrimination protections were extended to transgenders.  So "gender identity" has been added as a class not by action taken by Congress, but by the discretion of a Federal agency.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The 3 - May 1, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting 3 recent stories impacting the Christian community, spotlights a new Tennessee law protecting counselors who do not wish to offer counseling that would violate their deeply-held beliefs.  Also, there has been a development in a disturbing story out of China involving the destruction of a church facility, an action that resulted in the pastor's wife losing her life.  And, free speech is on leave at a large public university in North Carolina, where a campus Christian group has found its religious expression stymied.

3 - TN governor signs bill to allow counselors to opt out of counseling situations they find objectionable; counseling student expelled from MO university

Just days after vetoing a bill that would have made the Bible the state book of Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill that, according to a piece on the WORLD Magazine website, protects Christian counselors who don’t want to advise people in same-sex relationships.  Senate Bill 1556 states, "No counselor or therapist providing counseling therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist."

In a statement, the governor said that, "The substance of this bill doesn’t address a group, issue or belief system," adding, "Rather it allows counselors—just as we allow other professionals like doctors and lawyers—to refer a client to another counselor when the goals or behaviors would violate a sincerely held principle."  As WORLD points out:

In other words, if a gay couple comes to a Christian counselor for relationship advice, the counselor can refer the couple to someone who won’t advise them to break up—without the threat of a lawsuit. Or an atheist counselor could refer a Christian client to someone more understanding of their faith.

As the article points out, this development came after a lawsuit was filed earlier in the week by Andrew Cash, a former Missouri State University student expelled from a degree program for a masters in counseling because of his views on same-sex relationships.  According to another WORLD story, Cash had "told administrators he would counsel homosexuals suffering from depression and anxiety, but not couples and not regarding their homosexual relationships. Instead, he would refer them to another counselor who did not share his views." Jason Craddock of the Thomas More Society, which filed the suit, is quoted as saying, "That still wasn’t good enough for the university."

2 - After Chinese church demolished and pastor's wife buried alive, government admits the church owns the land

There continues to be a determined effort by the Chinese government to eliminate Christian symbols, and in a recent case, a church building, this instance involving the Beitou Church in Zhumadian.   According to a Christianity Today story, a local business had wanted to take over the property that the church sat on, and a government-backed demolition crew was sent to destroy the church. The pastor, Li Jiangong, and his wife, Ding Cuimei, stepped in front of a bulldozer, and it didn’t stop.

The story says that China Aid reported both the tragic incident and the ensuing legal victory, and the organization contended that a member of the demolition team said, “Bury them alive for me,” adding, "I will be responsible for their lives.”  The couple was shoved into a pit and covered in dirt - the pastor dug his way out, but his wife did not survive.

The demolition team has been detained, criminal charges are still pending, and a government investigation has concluded that the land belongs to the church. China Aid stated, “This is a definite legal victory for the church,” adding, “The task force concluded the investigation [by] stating … that pastor Li Jiangong's church has the sole authority for the usage of the land as a religious site and should belong to the church for use. It rules no individual or other organization should claim the land from the church.”

China Aid's president Bob Fu expressed concern that justice for the pastor's family has not been brought about.  

As the Christianity Today story points out, at a long-awaited national conference on religion, held April 22-23 in Beijing, China’s president Xi Jinping called on leaders to take the initiative in reasserting Communist Party of China (CPC) control over religion.  It states:

Xi’s speech, his first specifically on religion since coming to power in 2012, delineates a clear hierarchy in which religion is subordinate to state interests. According to Xi, uniting all believers under CPC leadership is necessary to preserve internal harmony while warding off hostile foreign forces that may use religion to destabilize the regime.

1 - Students at NC State told to obtain permits in order to discuss faith

It seems that college campuses have become laboratories where students are attempting to protect themselves from speech that they find offensive.  When you witness the identification of "safe spaces," micro-aggressions, and trigger mechanisms, it seems that there is a heightened level of sensitivity out there, and not in a positive way.

Todd Starnes - FOX News reports on a situation at North Carolina State University, where apparently, as the columnist says, "A permit is required before students can talk about Jesus at North Carolina State University," And, a lawsuit has been filed against that requirement in federal court.

Grace Christian Life, a registered student group at NC State, filed suit over a policy requiring a permit for any kind of student speech or communication anywhere on campus – including religious speech.

Here's some of the backstory:

In September 2015, the student group was told that without a permit, they must stop approaching other students inside the student union to engage in religious discussions or invite them to attend group events.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Tyson Langhofer told Starnes, “Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not places where students need a permit just to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”  Starnes reports that the university's rules were so draconian that the Christians were not even allowed to step from behind their table in the student union.  The lawsuit contends that, "The University has not restricted the ability of other students and student groups to engage in expressive activity," and, "Grace has witnessed other students, student groups and off-campus groups handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit."