Jerry Coyne reports:

You may have forgotten the case of Emerson T. McMullen, the Georgia Southern University (GSU) history professor (actually, an associate professor) who proselytized both Christianity and creationism in his history/science classes. (For relevant posts, go here.) Such pushing of creationism and religion in a public university violates the Constitution’s provisions for separation of Church and State.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation then sent a complaint to GSU (I drafted the scientific critique of McMullen’s arguments for Biblical creationism), and the University said it would investigate.

The University did investigate and sided with the FFRF. Coyne writes:

The FFRF (and I, too) see this as a hands-down victory for the First Amendment, an amendment specifically cited by Georgia Southern. Kudos to the university for acting promptly and strongly.

The letter to McMullen is given below; as it’s from screenshots of pdfs, please forgive the blurriness. It’s only 2.5 pages long, and I urge you to read it in its entirety. This outcome will no doubt serve as a precedent of sorts about how public universities should deal with First Amendment violations by faculty.

You can read the letters and links on Coyne’s site. He concludes:

I am proud to have worked with the Dawkins Foundation and the FFRF on this issue, though we’ll no doubt be denounced as “censors.” But passion in the defense of the First Amendment is no vice.

I think Coyne is right this outcome will serve as a precedent of sorts about how public universities should deal with First Amendment violations by faculty. I’m just not sure he’ll like it.

If we were to consider the population of professors at public universities and community colleges, I would bet you’ll find far more that (a) push atheism and/or (b) mock Christianity/religion than there are those who (c) push Christianity.

For example, less than 5 minutes with google (simply search ‘atheist’) allowed me to find student complaints about various professors:

Do not take him if you are the least bit religious.He is a staunch atheist and devotes the entirety of the course to attacking religion with science. In a class called “Soul BELIEFS” I was very much deceived by what ended up being a religion roast.


He is so Vindictive and thinks he knows everything. If your a Christian don’t even take his class he is very rude when it comes to Christianity, and peoples beliefs.


Worst teacher I have ever had. He practically shoves his atheistic views down your throat and I’m really open minded. He asked one day why girls fight with each other a lot and we answered that we’re more emotional based he said, “So you’re blaming your periods?” I despised having to sit in this class because I knew there was arrogance to come.


Take him if you don’t want a lot of work, however he’s an atheist so he will attack religious beliefs if you bring yours up. Be prepared to hear him criticize the catholic church.


This professor is a liberal atheist. To each his own, but I’m here to learn about English, not have a professor with different beliefs of my own shove his down my throat every chance he gets. He is antagonistic towards people with different beliefs than his own twisted ones. I paid a lot of money to take English 1302 not How to be an Atheist 101.

I could go on and on. (if you google yourself, feel free to add any juicy finds in the comments section).

Reading such comments takes on a whole new dimension in the light of the precedence set by the FFRF along with Coyne and Dawkins: the classroom behavior of these professors is unconstitutional. When professors “shove” their atheism down the throats of students and when they attack religious beliefs, they are violating the Constitution.

So it’s only a matter of time before the FFRF’s precedence begins to spread.

This entry was posted in atheism, education, Religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Precedence

  1. Most atheist I know are completely with you there, the thingy you quoted should not happen and it’s not a teacher’s job to judge anyone’s belief or to push his own.

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