Some of you have been here long enough to remember the big creationist battle that was ripping apart La Sierra University, a private university in Riverside, California, which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist system of higher education.
Some professors at the university had been teaching evolution, which is contrary to their church’s belief in young-earth creationism. There were online petitions against them, signed by thousands, and charges that biology classes were being guided by Satan. Three biology professors were singled out for teaching evolution, and many wanted them to be removed from the faculty.
It ended up with the creationists firmly in control and Lee Greer, an assistant professor of biology, said the university refused to renew his three-year contract — see La Sierra Professor & Board Members Expelled!. That very thing (well, the exact opposite of that thing) — happened to Guillermo Gonzalez (whom we call “Gonzo”) when he was denied tenure at Iowa State University because he was a creationist. The Discoveroids posted about Gonzo endlessly, and have never stopped praising him as one of their most revered martyrs. Yet they never uttered a peep about what was happening at La Sierra.
Perhaps you haven’t noticed, because it’s difficult to see what doesn’t happen, but whenever a creationist school expels (or doesn’t re-hire) a science-oriented faculty member, the Discoveroids are silent. They never defend the academic freedom of such people by organizing protests, encouraging letters to the editor, promoting legislative inquiries, and staging campus demonstrations invoking their “Teach the Controversy” and “Academic Freedom” slogans. They never insist that the “strengths and weaknesses” of “both sides” should be taught at creationist schools. Why? It’s because they’re happy when creationism — and only creationism — is taught at such places. They really don’t want the “controversy” taught and they don’t want academic freedom. They want everything and everyone to be creationist.
The reason we bring this up is twofold. First, there’s some recent news about the La Sierra situation. In the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, where La Sierra University is located, we read LA SIERRA UNIVERSITY: Employees’ case dismissed. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A Riverside County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by three La Sierra University employees who resigned their positions under pressure, saying the Riverside Adventist institution was protected by constitutional freedom of religion protections.
Judge Edward Webster ruled that the 2011 resignations were not coerced, as the employees alleged, and said the three men violated their contracts with the university by espousing values at odds with Seventh-day Adventist teaching.
Egad — they were Expelled! The news story continues:
Ricardo Graham, president of La Sierra’s board of trustees, asked the men to resign after they made derogatory remarks about church officials and were heard discussing how they violated church teachings on matters such as the consumption of alcohol. The conversation was inadvertently taped and fell into the hands of top church and university officials.
Wow — somehow the university “inadvertently” taped their private conversations. Two of the men who were forced out are identified later in the article:
Jeff Kaatz, La Sierra’s former vice president of development; Jim Beach, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Gary Bradley, a former biology professor. Beach remains at La Sierra as an associate professor of mathematics. Ricardo Graham had asked the three — and one other man not involved in the suit — to resign.
And the court sees no problem with that. We’re told:
[Judge] Webster said in the March 5 ruling that “the church is entitled to make its own decisions about how to respond when employees of a church-run school are deemed to have violated SDA (Seventh-day Adventist) doctrine.”
That doesn’t bother us. A religious institution should be free to teach what it wants. Some, like Catholic and Anglican schools, teach straight science in science classes. Some — like La Sierra — prefer full throttle creationism, and some teach a little of each. On the other hand, a state-run school is constitutionally prevented from promoting religion, so they’re required to teach straight science (not creation science or intelligent design).
Students should choose the school that suits their needs, and they should get what they pay for. Similarly, a teacher who accepts a job at any one of those schools should have enough brains to know what he’s getting into, and should teach what his employer expects him to teach.
Getting back to the news story, here’s something that not even George Orwell could have written:
In his ruling, Webster said that as a trustee, one of Graham’s jobs is to “safeguard the principles of moral integrity and academic freedom” of the university.
We would have preferred it if the judge had used a different expression — like “institutional freedom” — but he unwittingly revealed what “academic freedom” looks like at a creationist school.
We said there were two reasons for writing about this incident. The first is to point out the dog that didn’t bark. We refer to the silence of the Discoveroids — who pretend to be champions of academic freedom. Think about it. Have you seen a word from them about La Sierra? We haven’t.
The second is to remind you of some controversies like this that are still out there. There’s the Creationist Chaos at Bryan College in Tennessee, where people on the science faculty who teach evolution are under attack (about which the Discoveroids are silent); and then there’s the situation at Indiana’s Ball State University (ironically where Gonzo now is) — see Ball State Imbroglio Heats Up Again. Ball State is the only case where the Discoveroids are involved — on the side of the creationists.
In each of these cases — La Sierra, Bryan College, and Ball State — the flaming hypocrisy of the Discoveroids’ one-sided version “academic freedom” is clear. In state school science courses, they demand the freedom to wedge their Oogity Boogity stuff in too. But when creationist schools throw out science and its teachers, they give tacit approval by their silence.
See also: “Academic Freedom” for Creationists Only.
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