Bryan College Litigation Update — 18 May 2014

This is a follow-up to our post of a few days ago, No “Academic Freedom” at Bryan College, about the suit filed by two tenured professors, Stephen Barnett and Steven DeGeorge, who lost their jobs at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the Scopes Trial. The college was named in honor of William Jennings Bryan.

The professors were fired because they refused to accept the college’s recent “clarification” of its statement of faith, which is now far more explicit about the special creation of Adam & Eve. The professors are suing the school to get their jobs back, and to have the “clarification” declared void, because the original statement of faith — which they accept — says it can’t be changed.

The latest news comes to us from one of Tennessee’s major newspapers — the Chattanooga Times Free Press of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Their headline is Judge calls on Bible in Bryan College case as professors win narrow restraining order. They say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The echoes of the 1925 Scopes Trial can’t go unnoticed. The two professors suing Bryan College to keep their jobs filed their lawsuit in the same old red brick courthouse. Creation and evolution play a central role in the legal debate. And even today, William Jennings Bryan is proving an influential force.

Funny, how some issues never seem to die. Then we’re told:

But Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton — trying the case after a Rhea County judge recused himself — made it clear that this wouldn’t be like the Scopes Trial, which was as much spectacle as substance.

Yeah, well, good luck with that. Let’s read on:

In the first formal hearing of the lawsuit, Atherton handed down an “extremely limited” temporary restraining order barring Bryan from hiring replacements for the two professors in question, though the college is allowed to continue advertising and interviewing for the posts. That restraining order will keep the positions unfilled until a June hearing on the matter.

Hey — that’s good! The judge obviously thinks the professors’ case isn’t frivolous, so he’s preserving the status quo until he’s had a chance to learn a bit more. We continue:

After granting the order, the judge handed down another message. After a short recess, he carried a black-bound Bible back from chambers and handed it to the two attorneys. He pointed them to Proverbs 6:16-19, which reads:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

We checked the King James version. It’s pretty much the same. This is a good bit of scripture to toss at a creationist — if you ever have the misfortune to be in a conversation with one. Here’s more:

“We will not be having a second Scopes Trial,” Atherton said.

We’ll have to see how the case progresses, but for the moment, we like this judge. Moving along:

Both professors will continue being paid until July 31, though their current contracts expire today.

It’s not clear whether that was the original deal, or if it’s part of the judge’s order. Then we’re told a bit of how the college’s attorney argued:

Bryan College’s attorney, Rosemarie Hill, argued that the board of trustees has every right to require employees to subscribe to certain viewpoints. And, she said, the clarification was just that — a clarification. Hill said there was no way that Barnett and DeGeorge could have worked at Bryan for years without understanding the school’s stance as one of Young Earth creationism. “It’s Bryan College,” she said.

Great argument! Hey, it’s Bryan College — what did the professors expect? Everybody knows we’re a pack of creationists!

Here’s one last excerpt:

The judge will hear arguments in June on whether to extend the restraining order on hiring Barnett and DeGeorge’s replacements throughout the court proceedings. He plans to hold the trial in May of next year.

The professors will still be paid through June, so if the college can’t replace them by then, maybe the case will be settled. If they are replaced, and their pay ends in July, it’s going to be a long wait until the trial a year later. Meanwhile, the Discoveroids don’t seem very eager to defend the professors’ academic freedom. We wonder why.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Bryan College Litigation Update — 18 May 2014

  1. “It’s not clear whether that was that the original deal, or if it’s part of the judge’s order.”

    Assume that should be, “…part of the original deal, …”

    We are of one mind concerning the continued silence of that great bastion of academic freedom, home of the world’s only Intelligent Design proponents, the now-infamous “Discovery” Institutionalized.

  2. retiredsciguy helpfully suggests:

    Assume that should be, “…part of the original deal, …”

    No, but an extra “that” crept in. It’s fixed now. Thanks.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    The worst news? All the poor fundamentalist parents are going to have to hold off on enrolling their kids at Bryan until they can be sure it is a True Christian college, not full of heathen professors like those public universities have.

  4. I wrote a short note to their attorney asking how it was ethical for her to support two honest people losing their jobs over the lie that is creationism.

  5. By the way, isn’t any communication with a lawyer which the lawyer takes time on, “billable time”?