Jerry Coyne Accuses University Chancellor of Breaking the Law

Jack Hawkins, chancellor of Alabama’s Troy University, apparently sent the following video to the faculty and students:

As you might expect, this has outraged the usual suspects. David Silverman, the man who heads Madalyn Murray O’Hairs old group, demands an apology:

“We demand an apology from you for using the public university email system and your publicly funded position to disparage atheists and minority religious groups as well as perpetuating the discrimination and anti-patriotic sentiment against atheists in the United States,”

Ah, yes, the melodrama of the perpetually offended.

Jerry Coyne’s reaction is predictable:

This, of course, violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandating separation of church and state. Troy University is an arm of Alabama’s government, and its chancellor has no business promulgating religion and denigrating secularism in an official university email. So he’s not only as clueless as Harvard’s Christianson, but is in fact lawless himself. His love of God has led Hawkins to break the law.

Not so fast there, Judge Jerry.

We don’t know if Hawkins is breaking the law for the simple reason that no court has ever ruled on a case like this. Until a court rules on such issues, it’s probably not a good idea for a University Professor to publicly accuse the Chancellor of another University of breaking the law.

It does look like we need a court ruling here. As I mentioned, Coyne and the FFRF are trying to set up a precedent here. Although, once established, I’m not sure how they will react when it is used to police the university classrooms to ensure religion is not being bashed and atheism is not being pushed.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what Hawkins does. If he doesn’t apologize, what are the atheists going to do? Sue him for not apologizing?

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