A college professor who won a religious liberty case against a university he works for is urging fellow Christians not to "give in" to cultural pressures and "resist" it instead.
Dr. Nick Meriwether is a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio who recently ended his four year long legal battle against the school over a religious liberty case. Back in 2018, a male student requested that the Christian professor call him with female pronouns, to which Meriwether declined due to his biblical beliefs. The result was a warning in his personal file, which Meriwether sued the school over.
"I was going to be punished, not for something that I was doing, but for something that I would not do, and that was to affirm the gender identity ideology," Meriwether told Faithwire. "I would not affirm the ideology. It was really about compelling me to speak in a way that conflicted with my beliefs as a Christian and a philosopher."
Meriwether added that him being punished over student's pronouns was "an egregious violation of free speech." In March 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that Shawnee State University violated the Christian professor's free speech rights and paid a $400,000 settlement, which Meriwether said would mostly pay for legal expenses.
Now, the Christian professor continues to each at Shawnee State University, where the community has been supportive of his harrowing ordeal. Meriwether also highlighted how following cases such as his, people do forgive and move forward from the pain and frustration. He shared that he chose to absolve those who impacted his life and turned to Scripture to help him find his way.
"Christians are commanded by our Lord to forgive our enemies. The New Testament is extremely clear: We will have a lot of opposition, and we have to be loving, kind, and humble to those who oppose us, especially when they oppose us for our faith," Meriwether explained. "We can meet that challenge if we are humble and reasonable and rational and kind and generous, the very virtues that the New Testament compels us to adopt."
Meriwether's advice is pertinent especially in today's times when cases such as his are becoming more prevalent. According to Alliance Defending Freedom's legal counsel Logan Spena, cases such as Meriwether's are "becoming extremely common" at high schools and universities, as well as lower levels because some institutions are "requiring teachers and professors to affirm this [gender] ideology."
But Meriwether's victory is an example of how "the constitutional principles that actually govern in this area are still strong and will vindicate those rights when people are willing to stand up" just like the Christian professor.
Shawnee State University continues to insist however that they had done nothing wrong in punishing the professor for refraining from calling the student his preferred pronouns. In a statement, the university said it was an "economical decision" to settle and that it is their policy to "[protect] students or any individual from bigotry and discrimination." ADF argued that the punishment implied that in the school, "there is no room for dissent."