Freedom From Religion Foundation sends letter to Bardo


Selena Favela

A crowd gathers in front of Fairmount Coffee Co while speeches were given for the coffee shop’s grand opening.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent WSU President John Bardo a letter Wednesday, regarding its concerns with a class they say is being held in a religious location.

The letter was written by Christopher Line, a law-school graduate who has worked as a Legal Fellow with the foundation since 2015.

Line said that WSU chemistry professor Dr. Katie-Mitchell Koch requires students in her Physical Chemistry 1 class to meet off campus at Fairmount Coffee Company on 17th Street. He said that the company is affiliated with the Lutheran Student Center and that the shop contains religious decorations.

 “The coffee shop is filled with bible quotes and other religious iconography,” Line said in the letter.

Line said that the school violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring students to enter a religious establishment to attend class, “especially when numerous secular locations are available.”

“Requiring students to enter a religious establishment in order to attend class is especially concerning when you consider that 38% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are not religious,” Line said in the letter to Bardo.

The letter calls for WSU to take the “appropriate steps to ensure Dr. Mitchell-Koch will no longer place undue religious pressure on students by requiring them to enter a religious establishment in order to attend class.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national non-profit organization that promotes the separation of church and state.

This isn’t the first time the organization has challenged Wichita State.

In March of 2015, the foundation, which has more than 150 members in Kansas according to its website, sent a letter to Bardo concerning the employment of a team chaplain for the men’s basketball team.