Bryan College Litigation — It’s Finished

The last time we wrote about this case was Bryan College Litigation Update — 10 July 2014. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

This is 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 than before 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 trial was set for May of 2015, and it was never clear whether the court would allow the college to hire replacements for the two fired professors. Everything was in an uncertain mode.

This wasn’t a controversy over creationism. All the parties are creationists. To us it was a matter of integrity. The professors appeared to be taking a very principled position, while the college seemed to be high-handed and arbitrary. The most interesting aspect of the case was the hypocritical silence of the Discovery Institute.

You know how the Discoveroids like to get involved in disputes over “viewpoint discrimination” or “academic freedom” when a creationist isn’t allowed to spew his nonsense in a science class. But in this case they didn’t say a word to support the two fired professors. Instead, the one time they mentioned the case was to defend the actions taken by Bryan College. That was in this Discoveroid post: Has the Darwin-Lobbying National Center for Science Education Gone Wobbly on Us?, where Klinghoffer casually threw academic freedom under the bus when he said: “[A] private institution like Bryan with a religious or philosophical mission inevitably draws lines for its teachers.” We wrote about it here: No “Academic Freedom” at Bryan College.

So the professors were left swinging in the breeze, jobless, and the press seemed to have temporarily lost interest in the matter. But your Curmudgeon never lost interest. Look what we just found in the Herald-News of Dayton, Tennessee — the home of Bryan College. Their headline is Bryan College settles lawsuit with professors.

Almost all of their story is background information. The actual news is in their lead paragraph, and it’s only one sentence. They say:

A lawsuit filed by two former professors at Bryan College against the school has been settled, but the terms of the out-of-court settlement are confidential and the parties involved are not commenting on the matter, according to reports.

That’s it. That’s all the news they have. It’s over, and we aren’t told anything else. But we can speculate.

Our guess is that, as with most lawsuits, there was a monetary settlement, accompanied by an exchange of releases and a dismissal of the case. And as sometimes happens in very sensitive matters, this one also had a confidentiality agreement, so everyone is obligated to remain silent. There’s probably also a provision that despite the payments and releases, no one is making any admissions about anything. Standard stuff.

Although we’ll never really know what happened, it’s fair to assume that the college was sufficiently embarrassed (or at least annoyed) that the fired professors were paid enough to persuade them to drop the case and keep their mouths shut. That protects the reputation of the college — such as it is — and it gets the mess out of the public eye. Fair enough, although one can’t regard this as an example by either side of turning the other cheek — but this is the real world.

We can’t let the matter go without mentioning one more instance of Discoveroid hypocrisy. Not only did they fail to post even a single article supporting the professors, but now that it’s over and the college has (presumably) paid the professors, they’ll still say nothing. However, we remember a few years ago when an evolution doubting professor named Martin Gaskell sued the University of Kentucky. We wrote about it here: Discovery Institute Claims Victory in Gaskell Case. That case was settled with a cash payment to Gaskell, and settlement terms probably much like those in the Bryan College case. But Casey was screaming: “Of course the University of Kentucky denies any wrongdoing, but the final settlement reflects Gaskell’s strong case against UK.”

Our assumption is that this time the Discoveroids will be silent. Why? It’s obvious — they only support creationists when they claim “viewpoint discrimination” against a secular institution. A religious institution like Bryan College is free to discriminate all they want. What justifies such an exception to the noble principle of academic freedom? The creationists’ all-purpose contradiction nullifier: Ah, but that’s different! It’s usually deployed in defense of the uncaused First Cause who is their transcendent designer, but it’s always available when nothing else will do.

So that’s the news. The Bryan College case is over. The fired professors probably ended up with some money, and the college doesn’t look very good as a result of all this, even though it bought the silence of the two professors. The Discoveroids don’t look very good either — but of course they never did.

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

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10 responses to “Bryan College Litigation — It’s Finished

  1. The irony is that Bryan himself, although hostile to Darwinism, hinted in his testimony during the Scopes trial that he was open to the “days” of creation having been something other than literal 24-hour days–a concession defense lawyer Clarence Darrow pounced on, and one which would make Bryan an apostate to “young earth” creationists if they hadn’t flushed it down the memory hole. (Ah, George Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour!)

  2. Meanwhile, the game is afoot in the Armitage case, BC552314. Counsel for defense has filed its response to the complaint.

  3. So it sounds like they were released from their teaching positions at the college after all?

  4. Creationist doublethink at its finest.

  5. We’ll be able to figure out something if Barnett and deGeorge show up on the faculty list next year. My guess is not. No word that Bryan Vacation Bible School, Tire Repair and Aromatherapy has changed their Statement of Stupidity.

  6. The Discoveroids only took advantage of a situation that Hambo, who now thinks that religious discrimination in hiring is a constitutional right, has been creating for the past several years. Hambo constantly blogs against Christian colleges that he claims are “compromised” because they do not take s strong stand in favor of a literal reading of genesis. Any Christian college that allows faculty to teach “millions of years” in science classes will be singled out for criticism in Hambo’s blogs.

    AIG maintains a list of “approved” colleges where the administration of the school has signed and agreed to abide by the AIG statement of faith in their academic programs.

  7. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    This reminds me of that parable Jesus told about covering your ass by hiding the truth. It’s become the backbone of every fundamentalist organization.

  8. Even though they are creationist professors, I have to feel sorry for Barnett and deGeorge. By taking the principled stand, they have made themselves virtually unhireable. It’s unlikely any bible college will want them, for fear of the wrath of Ham, and no secular college (except for Ball State, perhaps) will want them either. Poor shnooks.

  9. @retiredsciguy
    I agree with you.
    Although it is possible that the settlement involved enough money to compensate for the pay lost, we can assume that it hurts not to be able to pursue their profession. They have paid for their principles.
    Ironically, this shows that it is not base motives behind every creationist.

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    Damn. What a lost opportunity for some genuine angst and turmoil at dear old Bryan College. But I blame this fizzler of a denouement at Bryan on the pernicious effects of modern college athletics. Used to be that if a coach had a losing team, the alumni association would just call up the Provost and, POOF, that coach would be sent packing and searching for a new start on a career miles away. Maybe as a locker room janitor or cleat cleaner, if they can get an interview.

    Nowadays these college coaches all have contracts with golden parachutes. Fire one for a losing season, or maybe just because they get caught in their hotel room with a live water boy or a dead coed, and the school has to pony up the balance of their contract, plus bonuses, and put up a bronze statue of the esteemed coach in the library courtyard.

    No wonder dear old Bryan required these two professors to keep quiet on their severance packages. The administration doesn’t want any of their coaches to up the ante for leaving. But I bet the two professors don’t get any bronze statues.