• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Kansas Republicans Want Religious Tests for Academics

The Johnson County Sun reports that the department of religious studies at Kansas University is still under siege from conservative politicians (link added):

The offending professor has resigned over his comments, but holding legislative hearings about anti-religious bias at Kansas universities remains a valid idea, Rep. Kay O’Connor, R-Olathe, said Monday.

This is, of course, the well-publicised case of Paul Mirecki, which I described here. Mirecki has been effectively marginalized within his own institution – the latest humiliation being that his department has sent out postcards to donors disassociating itself from his infamous anti-religious email comments unearthed by a conservative activist. But O’Connor, who was happy to see high-school science education hijacked by a religious lobby, is apparently far from finished:

“There would be one school of thought that there still should be a hearing, because if he is continuing to teach, does he have this same hate campaign going on in other classes?”

But given the lack of any actual reported student discontent or other serious concerns, just what would the hearing focus on? The Roman Catholic O’Connor has an idea:

“He is credited with bragging that no one in his religion department believes in God. If that is a true statement, what is happening to the religious department?” she asked.

This follows on from earlier comments by Rep. Brenda Landwehr:

…Landwehr also questioned whether Mirecki should be allowed to teach religious studies courses.

“It’s hard to teach religion if you don’t believe in it,” she said.

Republican activist John Altevogt (who first publicised Mirecki’s emails), meanwhile, has called for the whole department to be placed under the control of a religious organisation.

One would like to think that such a proposed assault on academic freedom would be too far-fetched to be taken seriously. But when you’ve succeeded in redefining science, you probably think that the sky’s the limit.

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Meanwhile, wingnut columnist and academic Mike Adams (who was profiled on this blog a while ago) has also jumped on the bandwagon, sending a series of questions to Mirecki – Mirecki’s failure to answer is supposed to prove something. Adams begins his letter thus:

My name is Mike Adams. I am a columnist for www.TownHall.com. Just a few minutes ago, I called your office seeking an interview about your alleged roadside beating at the hands of two apparent Christian fundamentalists. First, let me say that as a fundamentalist Christian I am opposed to any such violence.

Nice to see a conservative describe himself with the f-word, rather than wimp out with “Evangelical”. But this is curious: if Adams is opposed to violence, why did he marry a woman who told an anti-war student in 2001 that she deserved “to be dragged down the street” by her hair, and that she should have “the good sense” to keep her “liberal mouth shut”?