Chancellor Jack Hawkins of Alabama’s Troy University, who sent a completely inappropriate anti-atheist video to the entire student body and faculty last week, has finally issued a lengthier explanation of what he was trying to do. It’s not a better explanation. Just a longer one.
This was his original email:
(Reminder for those who don’t want to see the video again: It’s all about how religion is vital for democracy because it persuades people to follow the law… since they’re ultimately accountable to God. It presents a completely warped vision of how democracy works — and sends the message that Godless people are inherently immoral.)
In an email sent to students and faculty members yesterday, Hawkins elaborated on the video:
The recent New Year’s message I shared with the university community was not intended to offend. It was intended to encourage recipients to embrace the year ahead and to stimulate thought and discussion as to “why” America appears to be challenged at home and abroad.
It is regretful my message was found offensive by some due to their assumption it was based upon my intent to promote religion. Nowhere in my personal message did I mention religion. It is also ironic the genesis of the video message narrated by Harvard professor Clay Christensen was an observation made by a visiting scholar from China — a Marxist economist spending time at Harvard as a Fulbright scholar.
The Marxist economist concluded that American democracy has worked because the historic role of religion as a cornerstone of our society leads most Americans to “choose to obey the law.” Dr. Christensen expressed concern that as the influence of religion wanes in America, our nation will be left without institutions to teach this valuable lesson.
American higher education values academic freedom and free speech. It also holds dear its role as offering a marketplace of ideas for this country and the world. Those ideas should span a broad spectrum — even if segments of our society are offended by the views and observations of those with whom they disagree. In the end it is truth we seek as a university community.
This may be the worst apology I’ve seen in a while — because it’s not even an apology, because he’s had plenty of opportunities to make things right and failed every time, and because he blames everyone but himself for the ensuing controversy.
He blames anyone who found the message offensive (instead of trying to understand why we might have been offended).
He claims he never mentioned religion in his message… even though the video he included in that message, as he readily admits, was all about how amazing religion is.
He condescendingly explains the contents of the video, as if nobody bothered to watch it.
He brings up the idea of free speech and academic freedom, which was never in question.
He is completely aloof to the fact that the video, which was inappropriate for what should have been a generic “Happy New Year” message, pushes flat-out bullshit ideas.
I stand by what I said yesterday:
I hope students at the university find a way to (respectfully) express their frustrations with their leader. This would never have been tolerated if he had slammed any other group of students besides atheists.
(via South Alabama Atheist. Portions of this article were posted earlier)