Thursday, April 07, 2005


Kansas ID Witness Russell Carlson Accused of breaching Church-State Separation at University of Georgia

Joan Stroer a staff writer for the Athens Banner Herald filed this report (registration required):

Christian professors accused of breaching church-state separation at the University of Georgia say they need more guidance from the school's president on whether it's still OK to invite their students to after-hours lectures touching on religious faith.

UGA President Michael Adams told professors in a Dec. 8 letter that they were free to talk about religious views but should refrain from including them in course materials, which some students could see as coercive. It's not fully clear to some professors whether they can still feel free to issue invitations to such meetings in class.

''I am not yet precisely sure what the decision means in terms of my freshman chemistry lectures and my annual university-wide lectures on science and Christianity,'' professor Henry Schaefer said. ''After the dust settles, I'll request a meeting with the president. If this means an announcement relating the science and Christianity lecture must be printed on a sheet of paper separate from that giving tips on the assignment of oxidation numbers, this is not a problem for me.''

The issue has been debated around campus since it was brought up at a University Council meeting last month. Botany professor Barry Palevitz complained that Schaefer and another researcher, Russell Carlson, were passing out invitations to religious-themed discussions printed on the back of course materials.

Some students felt uncomfortable about an invitation to discuss religion from the professors, who belong to the Christian Faculty Forum. Some complained to Palevitz, an adviser to biology majors. Palevitz said the way the invitation was extended ''could have been intimidating to some students.''

In his letter, Adams recounted how, following his request, the department heads and faculty members met and discussed the issue. Robert Scott, chemistry department head, recommended advertising extracurricular activities ''in a way that completely (separates) them from the academic class setting.'' David Puett, head of the biochemistry department, told Adams that Carlson agreed to ''disassociate all meetings in his home from ongoing classes.''

Adams said Carlson went ''above and beyond the letter of the law'' in his agreement with Puett and said no one questioned Carlson's right to express his views. He cautioned ''against the use of syllabi or any particular classroom materials, which are required to be used by all students, to convey any particular religious position, even if only to announce the availability of an out-of-class discussion.''

Adams also said ''a faculty member might instead place a notice on the bulletin board or inform the class that a separate flyer containing the announcement is available for their taking,'' but he said the issue is one best dealt with at the departmental level.

RSR Seems like every time you scratch an ID theorist, you find a Christian Fundamentalist.


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