School Singled Out For Alleged Attack On Religious Freedom
January 4, 2010 by Special To Personal Liberty
Eastfield College, a public college in the Dallas area, came under criticism last month after it tried to prevent one of its students from making crosses during ceramics classes and imposed a full ban on the practice this fall.
The school’s art department has a "no symbols" policy that includes bans on crosses, menorahs and other religious items. Despite this regulation, Joe Mitchell, 69, made some ceramic religious figures for his fellow parishioners at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, and said he felt humiliated and that his "spirituality was being demeaned" when he was confronted about it.
After the incident, Mitchell teamed up with Liberty Legal Institute to send a demand letter to the school, threatening to pursue a lawsuit if the policy is not changed to protect his religious freedom.
"Unfortunately, not everyone has the Christmas spirit or even a basic understanding of religious freedom," said Kelly Shackelford, the institute’s chief counsel.
She added that "the government cannot ban crosses and religious symbols."
The college responded, saying the rules are intended to compel students to make original works and avoid duplicate projects, not to circumvent artistic freedom, and it confirmed its legal counsel will review the policy and amend the language to make its intention clearer, according to WFAA.com.