A professor at the University of Wisconsin – Baraboo/Sauk County has threatened a student with a failing grade unless a reference to the Bible was removed from an assignment. Annette Kuhlman, professor of sociology, told student Rachel Langeberg to remove a reference to the Bible from a group assignment or receive a failing grade. After Langeberg appealed to Kuhlman and Sociology Dean Tracy White to no avail, she went to the Liberty Counsel, where attorney Richard Mast promises to defend her rights to free speech and religious freedom.
According to a press release by the Liberty Counsel, Professor Kuhlman told Langeberg the following:
“The University of Wisconsin is a secular institution. Religious contemplations and the bible [sic] belong to a different realm and not academic sources. So your argumentation along Christian lines, including the slides you designed in relation to it, are [sic] inappropriate for this presentation. I will not allow you to present unless you change this. You will also fail your presentation if your discuss religion in connection with it.”
Mast says this is a clear violation of Langeberg’s civil rights. “Dr. Kuhlman’s review crossed the line from scholarship to censorship,” he said. He said the Constitution does not “require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.” He cites Lynch v. Donnelly and Farnan v. Capistrano as cases that affirmed religious expression in the classroom.
“Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they sign up for classes at the University of Wisconsin,” said Mast. “It is blatantly unconstitutional to restrict student religious speech or threaten a failing grade for religious content, where the speech or content is otherwise academically appropriate for the assignment.”
H/T: Liberty Counsel