Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. Apparently it doesn’t have a history department or teach a class on the Constitution.
The college stopped a “fundraising program that sold personalized name plates for athletic facility lockers rather than allow one to feature the Bible reference Colossians 3:23, because if people looked it up, they would find the verse includes the word ‘Lord.’”
Former football player Michael Lucas paid $2,500 for his name plate.
“But the college refused, claiming they could not have any inscriptions that referenced the Bible, Jesus or God — and that includes a Bible verse.
“The College of Mines did allow nameplates that referenced alcohol and foul language. So, mild profanity is fine, but the Almighty is not.” (H/T: Fox News)
Let’s take a look at Section 4 of Colorado’s Constitution:
“Religious Freedom. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever hereafter be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his opinions concerning religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations, excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state. No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination against his consent. Nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.”
The school denied the person who wanted a Scripture verse on his personal name plate. This is a clear violation of the Colorado’s Freedom of Religion statute and the Preamble which acknowledges that God is “the Supreme Ruler of the Universe,” and that would include by logical extension Colorado School of Mines.
No one was “required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination against his consent.” The choice of the verse was a personal expression of religion and speech, two items protected by the Bill of Rights in the First Amendment and Colorado’s own constitution.
Then there’s this item found in Colorado’s original Constitution:
“Done in Convention at the city of Denver, Colorado, this fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-six, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundredth.”
If Colorado’s constitution can use the word “Lord,” then why not a student at a state-supported college?
The United States Constitution also includes the phrase, “Done in the Year of our Lord.” The use of “in the Year of Our Lord” continued to be used through Jefferson’s administration. In 1807, Jefferson singed a federal passport that allowed the ship Hershel to proceed on its Journey to London and dated the letter September 24, 1807 “in the year of our Lord Christ.”
All 50 state constitutions make reference to God in various ways in their Preambles: Almighty God (the most frequent), Creator, Supreme Ruler of the Universe, Supreme Being, Sovereign Ruler of Nations, Legislator of the Universe, Creator and Preserver of the Universe.
Then there are the official documents that called for national days of prayer. On March 16, 1776, “by order of Congress” a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” where people of the nation were called on to “acknowledge the over ruling providence of God” and bewail their “manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.”1
Congress set aside December 18, 1777 as a day of thanksgiving so the American people “may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor” and on which they might “join the penitent confession of their manifold sins . . . that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance.” Congress also recommended that Americans petition God “to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consists in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”2
Here’s one from the administration of John Adams:
“[That April 15, 1799] be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the most high God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore his pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’”3
That last sentence is a Bible verse — Proverbs 14:34. If it was good enough for John Adams and the nation in 1799, then it should be good enough for the Colorado School of Mines in 2016.
John Adams, “National Fast Day,” A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1:284–286. ↩