No, you weren’t “flunked for your faith”. You were flunked for refusing to learn.

BREAKING NEWS: I’ve identified a girl who’s much more deserving of my “pupil in denial” domain name.

So… a few years ago, my home county in rural central Florida opened a new college. Rather, they re-branded and renamed their community college, and it’s now a four-year public university. (Speaking of name changes, it’s the same county that wouldn’t let me and my friend start a gay-straight alliance in high school… until we changed the name to “Diversity Club”.)

Alas, it seems progress still doesn’t last long in Polk County. They only made it a few years before someone tried to get a professor fired for teaching students to think critically.

That’s right. In other “white Christians pretending they’re a persecuted minority” news, a professor is being accused of “flunking a student for refusing to condemn her faith”. I hate to link to this source (I had to choose between Fox & Friends and Christian propaganda sites), but here it is: Christian Girl Given Zeroes for her Beliefs. The student’s representatives want him fired because – get this – he “gave a Christian girl four straight zeroes” for refusing to violate her religion.

Guess what? He had good reason.

Denying the Crusades is grounds for a zero in a class that’s supposed to teach you about history.

And deciding that Karl Marx didn’t add any insights to our collective perspective of ancient civilizations? Grounds for a zero too (and also kind of laughable, because his theories about Mesopotamia had more to do with analyzing its economy and politics than criticizing religion itself.)

They also rely pretty heavily on disparaging the professor as a “militant atheist”… using things he wrote outside the classroom. Methinks his status as an unabashed free thinker is coloring the student’s victim mentality (or coloring the lawyers’ eyes green).

I mean, they can’t really think that insisting on ignorance is the only way to serve Jesus. Because…

This isn’t what Jesus would do.

The Son himself was a textbook liberal. According to the book they hold so dear, he was always kind, gracious, tolerant, and patient — except for that one time EVEN HE had to overturn tables in a temple (Matthew 21:12-13) . What made him so mad? Religion was being distorted for political and financial gain. See for yourself:

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

A litigation group doesn’t want to think about what that means for Christianity, though. Because biblical deconstruction is one of those “anti-Christian” things this professor had the nerve to teach.

Referring to this deconstruction as “anti-Christian” is like calling literary theory an attempt to stop people from reading books. It’s perfectly possible to be a Christian AND to acknowledge the fact that the Bible can – and was, and continues to be – interpreted, translated, trimmed, edited, and preached by mortals with agendas. If it truly was the literal Word of God, it sure isn’t anymore.

In fact, if you looked at every word in the Bible that came from the lips of Jesus himself, you’d find yourself reading about a very different religion. A religion that tolerates and accepts all people – including gay couples and sex workers – and that challenges authority – especially when any religion is used to oppress others or gain power.

Speaking of sexuality, this next one shouldn’t surprise me.

Christian art… is anti-Christian?

Because Jesus couldn’t possibly condone any love that isn’t shared between a husband and wife, the lawsuit also reduced art criticism to “close-ups of sex organs”.

Yep, that’s what they called it when the professor showed students evidence that Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings included (and honored, even) male genitalia. You know, that very famous Christian artist whose work was very famously commissioned by the POPE himself.

According to the fear-mongering, privilege-clinging mentality of this lawsuit, the Sistine Chapel is full of pornography that college students shouldn’t be forced to view, let alone mention in papers or exams. (Okay, so she’s sixteen and getting dual-enrollment credit… but make no mistake; this is a college course.)

That mentality, by the way, comes from the Liberty Counsel. That’s the “religious freedom litigation nonprofit” (their words, not mine) responsible for filing this. Apparently this group of lawyers didn’t get the memo about the Constitution, though, because they think these F’s were not only anti-Christian, but unconstitutional.

Repeat after me.

Respect our religious rights, but don’t expect equal rights!

Guess what else they consider “anti-Christian”? Feminism. You know, that super un-Jesus-like view that women have value too. It was anti-Christian, apparently, to teach about the same social movements that gradually broke down barriers until a 16-year-old girl from Polk County could not only choose to continue her education past primary school, but could start working on her degree early.

If you asked the women who paved the way for her, they’d probably want her to stop sticking her thumbs in her ears and start listening. She might learn something.

She might learn, for example, that when women decided they wanted the right to vote, people (including some women!) hurled Biblical passages at them and used Christian beliefs as a reason to prevent  to prevent women from growing and learning and becoming full-fledged people. Of course, they completely overlooked or condoned the vast majority of supposed Biblical offenses — as well as the pesky little truth that the Founding Fathers didn’t want a Christian nation at all. It was their Constitutional right, as Christians, to prevent progress!

Sound familiar?

If you appreciate genuine irony (that rarest of animals, closely related to “literally”), appreciate this: almost everything I know about the Bible and Christianity, I learned at a private, religious school in Polk County. Despite a few amazing teachers, I have mostly blood-boiling memories of that place and my rich, conservative, Christian peers. However, it did arm me with the knowledge that those peers were, in fact, displaying the opposite of Christian-like behavior. So were many of the faculty members.

And so is the group behind this latest stunt. I only hope that this student eventually decides to creak open her mind, value herself, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the philosophers and artists and dictators and politicians and scientists who shaped our society. Because if no one had ever supported legislation that contradicted someone’s reading of the Old Testament, she wouldn’t have that opportunity at all.

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One Response to No, you weren’t “flunked for your faith”. You were flunked for refusing to learn.

  1. Steve Dietrich says:

    Great article Brittney. I just read Zealot by Reza Aslan. A fascinating read.
    Also, corporate America has been courting “Christians” for decades and fooling them to do their dirty work politically. Our Founding Fathers had just had a war with a conservative christian government, the Tories, and did not want their tyranny on our shores. We were not founded as a Christian nation. It is clearly in the Constitution.

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