Christians go to court

November 11, 1994

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the University of Virginia denying funds to a Christian magazine run by students.

The case will be watched closely as it will show how the Court sees the right to free speech coexisting with the United States constitution's equally important insistence on the separation of church from state.

The University of Virginia's policy is to refuse to subsidise student-run religious publications; it denied money to Wide Awake, a campus magazine intended "to challenge Christians to live, in word and deed, according to the faith they proclaim". The magazine's editor had asked for $5,900 to cover publishing and applied for the money via an avenue used by other student publications. The university said it did not pay for religious activity but it did subsidise Jewish and Muslim publications as cultural activities.

Magazine editor Ronald Rosenberger sued the university for violating his free speech by depriving his magazine of government money based on his publication's viewpoint. The university won in the lower courts.

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