Gay Pamphlet Sparks Religious Debate

Religion in schools has long been a dicey issue. Throw a little gay into the mix and, well, you’ve got a full-on mess!

Federal Judge J. Owen Forrester recently ruled that Georgia Tech University must stop funding gay “safe space” pamphlets that allegedly deride homophobic religions.

The pamphlets offered an overview of various religions and noted, quite controversially, that many religions take Biblical tales “out of context” to justify discriminatory behaviors. They went on to outline specific religions, describing some, such as the Church of Latter-Day Saints, as “anti-gay.”

God-fearing activists of the Alliance Defense Fund objected, saying the school was inherently favoring more liberal religions. Georgia Tech said otherwise, defending the packets as simply informative. Forrester, however, saying the Safe Space materials show a “clear preference of one religion over another…” He went on to order the school to remove the pamphlets.

The debate, however, has raised some serious First Amendment questions:

Steve Sanders, a Chicago appellate lawyer and former public university administrator, said that some of the materials at issue “might strike some readers as rather shallow and tendentious,” but he added that “I think you have to squint awfully hard to conclude that, as a First Amendment matter, they either denigrate or proselytize on behalf of any particular religious perspective. While the materials may betray a certain political or cultural point of view and we can debate the extent to which universities should be in that business, I think it was something of a stretch for the court to say they amounted to government favoritism toward one set of religious beliefs at the expense of another.”

Georgia Tech called the ruling “moot” because they no longer stock the Safe Space pamphlets.