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Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Wed Feb 18 12:55:33 EST 1998

At 9:24 AM -0500 2/18/98, Monique Reed wrote:

>Just try and mention anything to do with religion--pro or con or
>in a state-supported university and see what happens.  Not a pretty sight.
>I'm involved in teaching science at a laaaaarge state-supported university =
>the Bible Belt of Texas.  Many of the students are deeply religious; many a=
>not.  "Separation of Church and State" looms very, very large and there is =
>sort of unspoken 11th commandment--"Thou Shalt Not Discuss Religion".  It's
>the sort of thing which can get you yelled at, written about, passed over f=
>tenure, etc.


I hear you and understand precisely what you are
saying.  Untenured and less-than-full professors
must walk a certain line to achieve full-career
potential first.  Us "gray-hairs" are the ones who
really need to pick up the ball and run with it.

If our science students cannot tell where science
ends and religion begins, though, we do set up a
societal problem.  If we expect our federal funds
to continue to flow into our large state-supported
schools, we need citizens and their representatives
to know the difference.  When we get those graduates
("I don't believe any of that crap but here's what
you want me to say on this test") elected to public
office and voting on funding for NSF, USDA, etc. we
have a loose cannon and the blame is upon US.  We
cannot afford to let our majors through without
thorough appreciation of both types of inquiry.
Why MUST science be funded by government and why
MUST religion NEVER be funded by government?  If
we cannot deal with such questions in our schools,
we are short-changing students and ultimately

By not discussing religion and contrasting it with
science, our students get the impression that science
is just another religion ("I don't believe any of that
crap..."). By not squelching that erroneous idea,
that unexpurgated thought condemns science by virtue of
separation of church and state!  Goodbye NSF, etc.

=46inally, a 1997 issue of Academe (publication of AAUP)
is very helpful in on-campus discussions and awareness
of the need to present what religion is so that we
can know what science is not.  It also deals with
the role of academic freedom in connection with
any discussion of religion.  We DO have to be careful
not to be preaching or teaching doctrines of any
religion in state schools, but we MUST explain what
religion IS and how it INQUIRES to distinguish that
from what we do in science.  This much does meet
the letter and spirit of the constitutional amendment
calling for both religious freedom AND separation of
church and state.  The local union officers and the
university legal staff can help a faculty member learn
what can be said and done that does not cross the
constitutional lines.  We are wise to do as much as
is legal IMHO.


Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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