One day, a male student approached Dr. Meriwether after class, informed him that he identified as transgender, and demanded that Dr. Meriwether refer to him as a woman, with feminine titles and pronouns. When Dr. Meriwether did not immediately agree, the student became aggressive, physically circling him, getting in his face, using expletives, and even threatening to get Dr. Meriwether fired.(SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER UNHINGED ATHEIST TO ME OAKS?)
The student then filed a complaint with the university, which launched a formal investigation.
As a philosopher and as a Christian, Dr. Meriwether believes that God has created human beings as either male or female, and that a person’s sex cannot change. To call a man a woman or vice versa endorses an ideology that conflicts with his beliefs. So Dr. Meriwether offered a compromise: He would refer to this student by a first or last name only. That way, he would not call the student something the student did not like, but he would also not say anything that contradicts what he believes is real and true.
This compromise was not enough for university officials; they formally charged Dr. Meriwether—claiming he “created a hostile environment” and discriminated against the student. Later, they placed a written warning in his personnel file that threatened “further corrective actions” if he does not refer to students using pronouns that reflect their self-asserted gender identity.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on Dr. Meriwether’s behalf.
When: November 2018 – Present
ADF filed a lawsuit on Dr. Meriwether’s behalf in November 2018. In February 2020, a federal judge dismissed the case, but we appealed that decision. In November, ADF attorneys argued Dr. Meriwether’s case before the 6th Circuit.
And today, we got some great news! The 6th Circuit issued its decision in favor of Dr. Meriwether, ruling that he shouldn’t be forced to speak a message that violates his beliefs.
Where: Portsmouth, Ohio
Shawnee State University is a public university in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Why: Public universities should not force teachers to abandon their beliefs.
The message from the university is loud and clear: You must endorse the university’s favored ideology or be punished. There is no room for dissent.
But universities are meant to be a marketplace of ideas, not an assembly line for one type of thought. With its actions, Shawnee State ignored this fundamental truth as well as the Constitution. And the 6th Circuit just sent a loud and clear message to universities: You must respect the First Amendment rights of all professors, and that means you cannot force them to say things they do not believe.
The Bottom Line
No one should be forced to speak a message with which they disagree. No one should be bullied or banished from the marketplace of ideas for peacefully living out their beliefs. And no professor’s career at a public university should be threatened because intolerant university administrators dislike his view. Yet, that is exactly what has happened to Dr. Meriwether, and that is exactly why the 6th Circuit just ruled in his favor.