Senators step in on BSU course offerings
Thirteen years ago a group of state senators took aim at a state-supported university for the administration’s decision to allow a campus production of Corpus Christi, a play featuring homosexual characters meant to evoke Christ and his apostles.
If they didn’t explicitly threaten to punish IPFW financially, the lawmakers certainly implied it. The six northeast Indiana senators – Tom Wyss, David Long, Charles Bud Meeks, Robert Meeks, Harold Wheeler and David Ford – noted they were responsible for a significant portion of the funding for this state university.
The controversy raised questions of academic freedom, free speech and religious liberty. In the end, the university prevailed and a lawsuit filed by a group of citizens was dismissed.
Today, it’s a group of four senators – Dennis Kruse, Travis Holdman, Greg Walker and Jeffrey Thompson – targeting Ball State University, but this time they are accusing the university of violating academic freedom, free speech and religious liberty. Their complaint concerns Ball State’s decision to prohibit the teaching of intelligent design in a science course.
A course taught by Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics, allegedly advanced intelligent design as an alternate theory to evolution. When concerns were raised, BSU President Jo Ann Gora investigated and ultimately issued a statement that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science, and that it would no longer be a part of the university’s science classes.
Kruse, chairman of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, and the other senators sent a letter to Gora questioning whether the university had violated Hedin’s rights in its decision. They gave her until March 24 to answer the question: Does the policy forbid science professors from explaining either their support or rejection of intelligent design in answer to student questions about intelligent design in class?
As with the previous group of senators, the four would not appear to have the law on their side. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it’s unconstitutional to teach creationism or intelligent design, as violation of the Establishment Clause prohibiting any governmental endorsement or support of religion.