The administration at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, has denied approval for JBU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter to display posters as part of Young America’s Foundation’s Freedom Week activism initiative.
The posters, which outline the death toll and dangers of communism and socialism around the world, are part of the YAF chapter’s Freedom Week activism that also includes tabling events, virtual lectures, and discussion of the historical events that led up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Nevertheless, the posters were denied by Becky Wakefield, the Administrative Assistant for Student Activities at JBU.
“I am not able to approve the posters you dropped off today. The posters are political advertising,” Wakefield wrote to the YAF activists working to bring awareness of the danger of totalitarian ideologies on the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Feel free to stop by and pick them up or I can put them in the recycle bin if you want,” she added.
When YAF’s students pressed administrators to explain how stating facts about the history of communism and socialism constitutes “political advertising,” JBU doubled down.
Caitlyn Bennett, JBU’s Director of Student Engagement, reasoned that “the posters are political” because “Communism is a political ideology and each of the posters mention ‘the left’ or ‘leftist.'”
The reasoning provided by Bennett and Wakefield is flawed and has no basis in fact. Young America’s Foundation and our Young Americans for Freedom chapters exist as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning we are forbidden by IRS regulations from engaging in partisan political activity. The posters are ideological, not political, and perfectly acceptable as an educational tool for YAF activists to share the dangers of embracing the Left’s big government, totalitarian policy goals with their peers.
This denial of YAF’s Freedom Week posters comes after an advertisement appeared earlier this fall on John Brown University’s website with an image of Black Lives Matter (an admittedly-Marxist organization committed to deconstructing the nuclear family) demonstrators.
It’s shameful enough that a university would seek to provide air cover for the ideas that cost tens of millions of innocent people their lives, but to do so on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall—one of freedom’s most significant victories over communism—is beyond parody.
What’s worse, John Brown University portends to be “a leader in Christian higher education, providing a top-ranked academic, spiritual and professional foundation for world-impacting careers.” By telling students they can’t educate their peers about the horrors of communism and other totalitarian ideologies, John Brown University is apparently defending the worldview that is incompatible with religious faith. In fact, if communists had their way, Christians and their institutions—such as John Brown University—would not be tolerated.
“Students, parents, alumni, and trustees of John Brown University should be aware that this institution is using incorrect claims to prevent students from educating their peers about deadly ideologies that are antithetical to JBU’s faith-based mission,” noted Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “It is inexplicable that this school—which is dedicated to Christian learning—would turn against students who seek to warn their peers of the dangers that come when God is replaced with government.”
For those concerned with this decision, Director of Student Engagement Caitlyn Bennett can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-524-7422, and JBU President Charles Pollard can be contacted via email@example.com or 479-524-7116.
For additional information or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-872-1776.