This week Polk State University is standing behind a humanities professor accused of giving students anti-Christian assignments, even as the allegations were picked up by national conservative outlets. The college’s leaders say the case raises important issues for professors’ rights in the classroom and for academic freedom. “The overall fallacy of your position rests singly on the premise that that an instructor should not require a student to consider, discuss or present arguments that are contrary to his/her personal beliefs,” lawyers for Polk State wrote.
I find this argument fascinating because generally institutions are are lobbying for a further separation of church-and-state. However this case is unique for two reasons. First, because the college’s leaders recognize that the students are being challenged; regardless of their religious beliefs, adults are required to deal with issues they do not agree with, and are uncomfortable with. So I believe that (1) the professor is doing a good job by challenging his students to think outside their comfort zone. Furthermore, I find it refreshing that the institution supports its faculty, rather than “apologizing”for wrong doing. One can only hope that this is indicative of a united vision and faculty culture.
Uniqueness aside, how is the grey area reflected in a religiously-neutral dilemma?