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Christian student group files lawsuit against University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 4:14 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A Christian student group, Ratio Christi, has filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The group claims that the university discriminated against their views when it denied a funding request to bring a Christian philosopher on campus as a guest speaker. Documents reveal that in Jan., Ratio Christi applied for up to $1,500 funds from student fees to help pay for a lecture by Dr. Robert Audi, a Christian philosopher at the University of Notre Dame.

It is reported The Program Council denied the request, saying the fund could not be used to pay for “speakers of a political and ideological nature.”

The lawsuit claims that the defendants spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in student fees each year to pay for speakers and other events promoting political and ideological viewpoints like sexual orientation, social justice, police reform, and political activism without presenting opposing viewpoints.

Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement Friday following the news of the lawsuit.

Documents reveal the lawsuit asks for a variety of things, including:

  • To have the court declare that the system of allocating fees violate their 1st and 14th amendment rights
  • To prohibit defendants from enforcing their system of allocating activity fees
  • To compensate them for damages including fees paid for the Dr. Audi event
  • To award nominal damages for violating their constitutional rights
  • To award any other relief they are entitled

Among those being sued are all members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, University President Ted Carter, Jr., Chancellor Ronnie Green, Vice Chancellor Laurie Bellows, Association of Students of Nebraska at Lincoln, and The University Program Council.

NU Regent for District 3, Jim Pillen, released a statement Friday evening regarding the lawsuit.

“Suzanne and I have supported FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, on numerous campuses, including UNL, for 20 years. We’ve also supported Newman Centers at UNL and UNO. If any students or student groups didn’t have the opportunity to access University Program Council funds because of religious discrimination, that is unacceptable. If this allegation is true, then a change must be made immediately.”

Pillen, a conservative Republican and large-scale farmer, said in April that he plans to run for the Governor of Nebraska.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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