- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
University rescinds ban on grads thanking God
Question of the Day
Seeking to quell a mounting controversy, East Carolina University officials announced Tuesday that there would be no limits on religious references at its graduation ceremonies after a chemistry professor told his students that they were not allowed to thank God for earning their diplomas.
The university released a statement “clarifying that there are not constraints on religious references” after Assistant Professor Eli Hvastkovs sent students an email Thursday telling them not to thank God in their personal statements at the department’s graduation ceremony.
“You can’t thank God — I’m sorry about this — and I don’t want to have to outline the reasons why,” said Mr. Hvastkovs in the May 1 email that was obtained and posted online by the conservative group Campus Reform.
Dr. Hvastkovs later defended his email, telling Campus Reform that the graduation exercise is “not a religious ceremony,” but Provost Marilyn Sheerer issued a statement telling students to disregard the professor’s prohibition.
“I have confirmed with the Chair of the Department of Chemistry that students may submit personal statements, up to 35 words, to be read during the departmental ceremony,” said Dr. Sheerer in her statement. “These statements can be your personal expressions and as such the university will only limit these expressions, as permitted by applicable First Amendment law.”
The Greenville, North Carolina, university later explained that allowing students to read personal statements “creates a forum for student expression.”
“As such, the university regrets that, without approval from the appropriate university officials, other limitations and instructions were communicated to participating students in one department,” said the Tuesday statement on the university’s web page.
In an interview with Campus Reform after the news broke, Dr. Hvastkovs said he issued his edict — which he said only applied the department’s own ceremony — because too many students had expressed gratitude to God during the 2013 ceremony.
“It’s not a religious ceremony,” he said. “It’s purely educational.”
Although the university quickly backtracked, the professor was not spared some harsh commentary from critics over his original email.
“I’m curious as to how Professor Hvastkovs might be disciplined as a result of his actions,” wrote blogger “Mockarena” at the ChicksOnTheRight.com blog. “My guess is that he won’t be. At the very least, he ought to take a remedial civics course so that he can understand how his personal desires don’t trump the First Amendment.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Westerners call for oversight to combat federal land managers
- Protesters rally in Colorado to support Israel's fight with Hamas
- Plagiarism scandal threatens Senate campaign of Montana Democrat John Walsh
- Conservative groups decry Democrats' 'war on women' tactic
- Act would create tax-free savings accounts for the disabled
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's trial to test definitions of political corruption
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq