|Back to November Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 190||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2001|
Anti-Christian Play Staged at Purdue |
FORT WAYNE, IN - In mid-October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit refused to reconsider its Aug. 7 decision allowing the anti-Christian play,Corpus Christi, to be performed at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne University (IPFW). The tax-supported state institution had agreed to host six performances of the notorious Terrence McNally play about a homosexual Christ who has sex with his apostles. In the play, Christ dies as "King of the Queers."
On July 5, 32 plaintiffs, including members of Eagle Forum of Indiana and 21 state legislators, filed suit against IPFW and its board of trustees, contending that allowing the play would violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as Article I, Section IV of the Indiana Constitution. Letters to the editor of local newspapers by six Indiana state senators also helped stir public sentiment against the play.
In filing the suit, Indianapolis attorney, John Price, stated: "This is not a case about academic freedom, as IPFW claims. Academic freedom on today's Politically-Correct campuses is almost dead in any case. . . . We all know that tax funds can't be used by our government to promote a religion. This case will decide if the government can use our tax funds to attack a religion on public property. . . ."
On Aug. 3, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette published a letter to the editor by Indiana Congressman Mark Souder, an IPFW alumnus. Souder wrote: "Corpus Christi is a pathetic, poorly written, trashy play that exists solely to upset Christians offended by its blasphemy. IPFW exists because taxpayers are forced to contribute their hard-earned dollars to support the university. . . IPFW's answer to those taxpayers has been to say, 'If you believe we have used your dollars to mock your God, just don't come to the play. Nobody is forcing you to come.' But IPFW did force everyone to pay for this play."
The appeals court ruled that "The contention that the First Amendment forbids a state university to provide a venue for the expression of views antagonistic to conventional Christian beliefs is absurd . . . . The quality or lack thereof of Corpus Christi and other postmodernist provocations is a matter for the state university, not for federal judges, to determine . . . ."
One member of the three-judge panel dissented: "Allowing the university to stage the play would open the floodgates for anti-religious speech where any religion could be the target of the vile and hateful speech that is from this date forward sanctioned by the government."
(Linnemeir v. Board of Trustees of Purdue University, No. 01-3002.)