I wrote the other day about the situation at Purdue, where a family that donated money wanted to put up a plaque in honor of their father that referred to “the understanding of God’s physical laws” and the university said no. They’ve now reached a compromise to put up the plaque with slightly different wording and a disclaimer:
McCracken will be able to honor his parents, as well as mention God, with language that specifies the statement is from the viewpoint of the McCrackens and not the University.
The revised language reads as follows: “Dr. Michael McCracken: ‘To all those who seek to better the world through the understanding of God’s physical laws and innovation of practical solutions.’ Dr. Michael and Mrs. Cindy McCracken present this plaque in honor of Dr. William ‘Ed’ and Glenda McCracken and all those similarly inspired to make the world a better place.”However, the University will be adding an additional plaque accompanying McCracken’s which will clarify that his words are not the speech of Purdue and that the University is aware of its neutrality obligations by law.
Seems like a reasonable compromise to me. I don’t think there was really an Establishment Clause violation in the first place and there certainly wasn’t any free speech violation for denying the original language. It was much ado about very little.