Christian student responds to SGA that denied him position over personal beliefs

Stephen Morris told ‘Campus Reform’ that 'this act of discrimination will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free speech, causing diversity of thought to suffer greatly.'

He also expressed concern that his cancelation set a precedent for judging future SGA nominees.

Stephen Morris, the Auburn University pre-law major who was denied the opportunity to serve as the Student Government Association’s Chief Justice, spoke with Campus Reform after student senators took issue with his conservative-leaning tweets.

Morris told Campus Reform that Auburn’s culture “does tend to support free speech.” However, he fears that “because these student leaders were successful in canceling me, they are now emboldened to cancel others who dare to share views contrary to their woke ideology.”

As reported by the Auburn PlainsmanAuburn’s Student Government Association President Rett Waggoner nominated Morris to serve as Chief Justice; his confirmation required a two-thirds majority from the Student Senate. 

[RELATED: University of Minnesota student leader: make life ‘hell’ for campus cops]

However, senators expressed concern at a July 12 meeting over Morris’ Christian and conservative convictions, as expressed on his Twitter account.

“I do believe that a candidate on this slate of selections is unfit to serve, and that they would not judge without bias due to the fact that they have previously referred to humans — a human population — as ‘inhumane animals,’” Senator Brandan Belser said as debate opened on Morris’ nomination. “And so for that reason, I don’t have confidence to pass this bill.”

The tweet to which Belser was referring was a criticism of Black Lives Matter activists who were celebrating the deaths of police officers.

“After seeing some of the things that one candidate has said, I don’t have confidence that if something that were controversial would come up that it would be unbiased,” added senator Sydney Williams. “Some of the things I have seen have been concerning just humans and equality and things like that. Since this is a confirmation and not something that the student body can elect, I think it’s the Senate’s job to look out for the student body and make sure it’s someone that can represent the student body.”

 Morris told Campus Reform, “The message is loud and clear to the thousands of Auburn students who share my views: keep them to yourselves or be deemed unfit to serve in SGA.” 

“With cancel culture as prevalent as ever, many conservative students, professors, and administrators are terrified to publicly share their Christian and conservative views,” Morris continued. “This act of discrimination will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free speech, causing diversity of thought to suffer greatly.”

In addition to Belser, another student took issue with Morris’ argument that “personal responsibility — not more government — is the key to escaping poverty in America.” 

During his July 12 defense, Morris stressed that he would seek to apply the law as written as Chief Justice — regardless of his own personal political views.

“I will say that I’m deeply troubled that senators have been injecting their partisan political beliefs into this process, essentially imposing a political and religious litmus test on appointees,” Morris replied to the Auburn students, while also clarifying that he defines people “by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

“Personally, I find my identity in Christ, and I believe that my Christian beliefs and Christian doctrine do indeed promote the absolute highest level attainable of human flourishing,” he added.

Nevertheless, Morris’ peers overwhelmingly voted against passing the bill, which would have approved Morris and the rest of the SGA judicial branch nominations.

[RELATED: Jacobson sounds off on higher ed’s war against Christianity: ‘What a shame’]

Speaking with Campus Reform, Morris stated that he believes his  defense was the first time was the firs of its kind for an Auburn SGA position. “The confirmation process has always been a formality,” he added.  

Morris also noted that he has “thankfully” never witnessed an interrogation of a left-leaning students’ viewpoints before their nomination into a student government position. 

“I believe that such an interrogation would be just as unacceptable as it was in my case. Student senators should focus on the qualifications of appointees, not their sincerely held religious beliefs or political views.”

Campus Reform reached out to Auburn University SGA for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft