University blasted for poster asking whether the phrase 'you need Jesus' is hate speech

The Roe Green Center at Kent State University is featured in this image. | Wikimedia Commons/Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture

A Christian student leader is demanding an apology from Kent State University over a poster that asked whether the phrase "you need Jesus" is a form of hate speech.

The poster, created and circulated public university's Center for Student Involvement on social media last week, was aimed at promoting an event on free speech issues as part of Kent State's KENTTalks, according to The College Fix.

The event was aimed at providing "a safe place for discussions and transformational experiences for our student body" and promoting "civil discourse."

The advertisement features an image of silhouetted activists holding a range of placards with messages, overlaid with the rhetorical question "free speech or hate speech?"

The message on the placards include "No More Gays," "Women Need To Serve Their Man," "Build a Wall," and "You need Jesus."

Jared Small, president of the Campus Ministry International student organization, has called on the university to apologize for the poster, saying it unfairly targeted Christianity.

"The university should apologize because it appears to be targeted toward one political and religious side," the student leader wrote in an email.

"They could have included hate speech against president Trump or hate speech against Christians as examples. In my opinion, free speech protects hate speech to an extent. However, the university appears to show a bias against Christians and conservatives," he added.

Amy Reynolds, the dean of Kent State's College of Communication and Information, moderated last week's KENTTalks panel discussion on free speech, but she maintained that she was not involved in creating the advertisement for the event.

She further noted that all the promotional materials for the event were created by the Center for Student Involvement.

Officials from the Center for Student Involvement and the school's media relations department had not responded to The College Fix's inquiries about the poster.

Other student groups at Kent State have voiced out their concerns on the subject of free speech and "safe spaces" at the school. Last week, a conservative student group at the university staged a protest in an attempt to demonstrate that "safe spaces are for children."

Members of Kent State University's chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) dressed up as babies, wearing diapers, suspenders and pacifiers while sitting surrounded by toys behind a plastic fence. Posters that were plastered on the fence had messages that read, "Your Censorship Offends Me" and "The Real Free Speech Zone."

"We were being ridiculous and absurd on purpose to showcase how adults look when they say words hurt their feelings," said Kent State TPUSA President Kaitlyn Bennett.

However, the national TPUSA organization issued a statement on Oct. 20 condemning the demonstration at the Ohio university.

The statement, which was posted on Twitter, noted that the organization supports the efforts to criticize safe spaces, but it said that the protest at the university was done in "poor taste."