I heard about this from professors on campus and I was very surprised to see it in HNN (Humanist News Network) e-newsletter. It so happens that, and I’ll be nice, an apparent Evangelical Fundamentalist is up in arms about an assignment she had to do in a Social Work class.
The assignment not quite made clear here: http://www.humaniststudies.org/enews/?id=293&article=0 and to the best of my understanding dealt with writing a letter (social work style) to members of the Missouri government concerning Gay adoption. Only position allowed was in favour of Gay adoption.
Oh, that shouldn’t be a problem, you and I say, but not to the Religious Right. This young student is taking Missouri State University (MSU), with the assistance of Horowitz, to court because they feel her First Amendment rights have been violated. Mind you, she wrote the letter (to my understanding), but refused to have it mailed. Secondly, the prof. did not reduce her grade because the student voiced her religious objections. The prof did take into consideration said student’s religious views. The student still got the grade she deserved without discrimination or being forced to mail it.
At first glance you might think the student is complaining about having the right to be anti-homosexual, but it goes further than that. She wants the right to be protected concerning her POV that the Bible is inerrant. She has that right already and the problem for various profs and students keeping up with this issue is that the wording is far to vague:
[quote:f2536dec13]Protected viewpoints include religious beliefs, as the bill states institutions must take steps to "include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution’s guidelines on teaching and program development and such concerns shall include but not be limited to the protection of religious freedom [b:f2536dec13]including the viewpoint that the Bible is inerrant.[/b:f2536dec13]" (emphasis added)[/quote:f2536dec13]
The Act being proposed is thus: http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/biltxt/perf/HB0213P.HTM
It concerns me that it could ineffect stimi intellectual learning/higher education and free inquiry. Will it stop me from stating the Bible is written by humans is therefore is [b:f2536dec13]NOT[/b:f2536dec13] inerrant? Which is open to debate, if anyone wanted to debate me, of course. I’m currently writing a paper with the thesis that C.S. Lewis was never really a true atheist and he just went full circle, which could step on a lot of proud Christian toes because they believe they converted a true Atheist. What will this do to anything else I may have to say in such papers? The prof, who knows I’m a Humanist, has challenged me on my statement, therefore, I’m going to go with it for my term paper and she has given me the full go ahead to do this. I’m using as one of my supports in this research to show this an article from the Secular Humanism site. It really should not be a problem, but if Dr. Horowitz gets his way I might not get to have this privilage.
[quote:f2536dec13]Coincidentally, the complaint was prompted by a visit to Missouri University by David Horowitz, an ultra-conservative pundit who fights against what he calls the "liberal bias" of the majority of professors teaching today. He has championed an Academic Bill of Rights to promote "an academic environment where decisions are made irrespective of one’s personal political or religious beliefs."[/quote:f2536dec13]
Oh granted there was no decision made irrespective to my own personal political or religious beliefs in this assignment, but if the Religious Right gets their way, I might not get to have free reign concerning the papers I write. I have written papers in English Class in which I have compared mythology to Christianity and made "A’s". Last one was Shakespeare’s "Midsummer Night’s Dream". I literally called and classified Christianity a myth- something most Christians would get upset about. I’ve done similar things in a History class too.
Currently this student does have the right to not complete an assignment based on religious grounds, but what does this vague wording imply to Secular students who have no problem with exposing the fallacy of religion and the opinions of the religious? What will be the implications to free inquiry (I’m using the term loosely) of various issues that run contrary to the Religious Reich? Will the Fundamentalists supporting this bill, both in office and in the general public, manage to get this passed and impose their ideology on others? IMHO, this bill does NOT support "Intellectual Diversity".
Currently, I was excused from discussing my personal views, or rather lack there of, of Heaven and Hell when we were discussing C.S. Lewis’s "The Great Divorce" on the grounds that the majority of the class is Christian, I was already having issues with one (non-traditional also) student who is Fundamentalist- therefore I did not want more problems with her or anyone else, and I’m the ONLY Humanist in class, with the promise that my participation grade during the 3 day discussion would not be reduced because of it.
The issue, in my case, was not the topic matter, but rather fear of more persecution because I do not believe in Heaven or Hell. This was an issue that the prof became aware of when said student made the comment in class, "Atheists do not have a sense of humour." I begged to differ and suddenly the student who brought it up decided she didn’t want to discuss it anymore. The prof was going to allow the discussion, esp given the C.S. Lewis book we were discussing at the time and I was open to debate the student, but since I contradicted this student, she wanted no part of it and was angered because I tried to rid her of her stereotype. Notice the fellow student labeled me an Atheist, I labelled myself a Spiritual Humanist the first day of class when the prof asked us about our backgrounds. I made no attempt to hide that I am a Humanist, but suddenly my label got changed, not by me, but someone else.
A couple of the various professors’ concerns are that the wording is vague and that they may have to teach that the Bible is inerrant, which even those in the Religious Studies Dept know is not true and would not be teaching as they should. The list of concerns goes on, but that is a few I have heard from the professors, even from the Religious Studies Dept. More critisms: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/newsroom/highlightscurrent/H213.htm
What will happen if this bill passes as is, esp here in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt? I feel this is one more attempt by the Religious Reich to impose their views on others and impede intellectualism.