Not long ago we wrote about a university affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventists that was firing biology professors for teaching evolution (see La Sierra Professor & Board Members Expelled. For all their professed concern about “bullying” and “academic freedom,” we didn’t hear a peep out of the Discovery Institute.
Now we’ve got another one. Shorter University, according to Wikipedia, is “a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Rome, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1873, it is a Christian university historically affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.” They’ve been making news lately.
The website of the Associated Baptist Press reports Shorter limiting academic freedom. Gotta love their headline! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
One of the dozens of faculty leaving Shorter University over the Baptist-affiliated school’s controversial new “lifestyle statement,” that includes rejecting homosexuality, blamed his departure in part on demands that he teach Creationism or Intelligent Design in science classes.
Wow — dozens of faculty are leaving. This is a purge. The story continues:
Richard Pirkle, assistant professor of biology at the private Christian school in Rome, Ga., for six years, said in a May 22 resignation letter posted on a Save Our Shorter website that as a Pentecostal Christian he objected to being asked to sign someone else’s statement of faith and was offended by public suggestions that anyone reluctant to do so must not be a Christian.
Here’s a link to his Letter of Resignation. It says, in part:
Though I have enjoyed my time here at Shorter and I feel as though both I and the students have benefited from me being here, the current changes in the administration and the policies that have been enacted has made it to where I can no longer work at Shorter. My concerns stem from two major implications of the policy changes. First, I disagree with being forced to be “in agreement” with the school’s statement of faith instead of submitting our own. Though I am Pentacostal and most assuredly a Christian, the public statements about this situation implies that I am not a Christian simply because I am unwilling to sign someone else’s statement of faith.
Secondly, and more specifically to my discipline, I disagree with the undue influence that the Board of Trustees, Nelson Price, and Dr. Dowless have exerted on my ability to teach the best science available to the students of Shorter University. Specifically I am disappointed with being forced to teach Creationism or Intelligent Design (both of which are philosophical and religious beliefs) in addition to being forced to teach evolution as “just a theory” (which ignores the scientific definition of “theory” as a widely accepted and highly supported way of looking at multiple fields and levels of scientific evidence).
A man of principle! Okay, back to the Associated Baptist Press story:
Pirkle, who resigns Aug. 1 to move to a new position at Tennessee Tech, said that in multiple job interviews other schools asked about his reasons for leaving and voiced concern about “how science was to be taught at an institution that uses semantics and non-scientific explanations to explain how biology works.”
That’s a polite way to say it. Pirkle is a gentleman. Let’s read on:
A once-prestigious School of the Arts has been decimated, losing 13 faculty members. Just two faculty members remain at a much-heralded School of Nursing, which opened in the 2010-2011 academic year.
Four chemistry professors and five biology professors are gone, including a dean with more than 40 years of service and a tenured professor of 30-plus years. Other professors teaching foreign languages, mathematics, accounting, education and history are gone. So are three librarians, a museum director, three coaches and an assistant professor of sports management.
It must be deeply satisfying to those who run that institution to know that at last they’re weeding out the “Darwinists.” We continue:
Shorter President Don Dowless said in a statement quoted in media that he and the university board recognized there are “strong feelings on both sides” about the new employment rules, but the board decided to “reclaim our Christian roots” even if the consequence was a loss of faculty and staff. “Our university was at a crossroads to either take steps to regain an authentic Christian identity in policy and practice or we would become a Christian University in name only,” he said.
Here’s one more excerpt:
Shorter’s website explains the new policy [see Clearing up confusion about faculty and staff employment policies] as part of “defining what it means to be a Christ-centered institution.”
“In an age of increasing postmodern relativism, it becomes necessary to explicitly articulate our core values,” the statement says.
This looks like a great subject for the Discoveroids, who are oh-so-sensitive to issues of academic freedom. No doubt we’ll be hearing from then any day now. Well, let’s get serious. All we expect from the Discoveroids is silent approval. What’s happening at Shorter is exactly what they’d like to see happen at every university. And in the public schools too.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.