Court stops U.S. university from enforcing policy that curbs Christian group's liberty to share faith with students

A North Carolina court has stopped the North Carolina State University from enforcing its policy requiring a Christian student group to get a permit first before they could freely share their faith with other students.

District Judge James Denver issued a preliminary injunction against the university's non-commercial solicitation policy that requires a student, student group or off-campus guest sponsored by a student or student group to obtain a permit from the university first before engaging with other students by way of handing out flyers and brochures and invitations to attend worship services.

Last January, the student group Grace Christian Life set up a table at the university's Talley Student Union with prior permission.

When the permit was obtained, an employee of the Student Involvement Office told the group that they were not required to stay behind the table and were allowed to walk around and talk to students.

But after setting up the table, an employee of the same office told Grace Christian Life that they were not allowed to leave the table and they will just have to wait for students to come to the table.

The lawsuit said the university did not apply this policy to other student groups.

"Grace desires to engage in religious expression on campus without obtaining prior permission of the University, but has frequently refrained from doing so for fear of punishment," the lawsuit stated.

The policy, it said, violated Grace's First Amendment right to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

"Because the only permit required for free speech on a public university campus is the First Amendment, we welcome the court's decision to put a stop to NC State's policy," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Tyson Langhofer.

In the decision, the judge said Grace "has established that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that North Carolina State University's Non-Commercial Solicitation policy (including the permit requirement in the policy) facially violates the First Amendment."