KU withdraws intelligent design course
J-W staff reports
Thursday, December 1, 2005
A controversial class on intelligent design at Kansas University has been dropped from the spring schedule, the university announced Thursday.
Paul Mirecki, chair of KU's religious studies department, withdrew the class, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism," after controversy erupted over e-mails he had written disparaging Catholics and religious conservatives.
"My concern is that students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. It would not be fair to the students," Mirecki wrote in a prepared statement.
"It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility. I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner."
Provost David Shulenberger added: "I granted Professor Mirecki's request and agree with his recognition that his actions had created an untenable situation. We still think the course itself not only has merit but is important and should be taught at some point.
"While the e-mails were unquestionably offensive, I know that Professor Mirecki regrets the situation he created. He has taught biblical studies and other religious studies courses here for 16 years and has an international reputation for his research. I hope this serious scholar will continue his work."
The State Board of Education's conservative majority last month successfully pushed changes in the state's public schools science standards that critique evolution - with intelligent design at the heart of those standards. Mirecki's course was inspired by that decision.
Now that's the official version, Here's the rest of the story:
Friday, December 2, 2005
University kills anti-ID course
Posted: December 2, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jack Cashill
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
Moved in no small part by articles in WorldNetDaily and a few other online publications, Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway effectively killed an anti-intelligent-design course planned for the spring.
As reported yesterday, Paul Mirecki, the head of the Religious Studies Department at Kansas University, had proposed a course titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."
When it came to light that Mirecki had justified his course on an atheist and agnostic website as "a nice slap in [the fundamentalists'] big fat face," he was coerced into removing "mythologies" from the title.
When it was further revealed on these pages yesterday that for years Mirecki had been posting virulently anti-fundamentalist and anti-Catholic diatribes on KU's Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics (KU-SOMA) website, Chancellor Hemenway tightened the screws.
"I want to be clear that I personally find Professor Mirecki's e-mail comments repugnant and vile," said Hemenway in announcing Mirecki's withdrawal from the course. "They do not represent my views nor the views of this university. People of all faiths are valued at KU, and campus ministries are an important part of life at the university."
Despite his position as head of the Religious Studies Department, Mirecki had made it clear just how little he valued the Christians in his midst. For instance, when one SOMA communicant complained of being approached by a person giving out Bibles, Mirecki sympathized, "Yeah, I was offered one and asked the guy why he wanted the 'dark ages' to return. He just smiled at me with that inane look of the 'convinced.'"
"The Evil Dr. P.," as Mirecki identified himself on the SOMA site, valued the world's Roman Catholics even less. When a student described the ailing Pope John Paul II as a "a corpse in a funny hat wearing a dress," Mirecki responded, "I love it! I refer to him as J2P2 (John Paul II), like the Star Wars robot R2D2." The SOMA crowd was equally harsh on conservative Jews, especially the sort who "sacrifice red heifers."
Although acknowledging that Mirecki made the right decision by withdrawing from the course, Hemenway insisted that "this unfortunate episode does not in any way diminish our belief that the course should be taught."
John Altevogt, the conservative activist who smoked out the SOMA website, was not assuaged. "The decision itself is meaningless," said Altevogt. "What is at issue is that a religious bigot who appears to be compelled to engage in hateful conduct is not only allowed to lead a major university department, but the department of religious studies."
What troubles Altevogt, too, is that the chancellor failed to address the question of whether any discipline would be applied to a professor who made "anti-Semitic, racist and bigoted statements," as well as the campus group that he mentored and encouraged.
Altevogt insists he is just looking for equity. "If a fraternity can be removed from the campus for hazing," Altevogt continues, "is an organization [KU-SOMA] whose members gleefully recount harassing and persecuting visitors to the campus based on their faith or group affiliation to simply be ignored and accepted as part of the university community?"
The Kansas Legislature is asking these same questions, and until the answers are known, neither is Mirecki's future.
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.