The Freedom From Religion Foundation has teamed up with two renowned evolutionary biologists, Richard Dawkins of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and Jerry Coyne, to ask Georgia Southern University in Statesboro to investigate a professor for promoting creationism.
FFRF, the nation’s largest association of freethinkers, with 21,500 members, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and Coyne of the University of Chicago sent a joint letter Oct. 21.
The letter details complaints from students about GSU history professor Emerson McMullen’s promotion of Christian beliefs. According to those reports and FFRF’s subsequent investigation, McMullen “crosses ethical and constitutional lines.”
McMullen allegedly uses extra-credit assignments to try to “convert” students by inviting them to write about McMullen’s religious beliefs. He has reportedly also promoted Christian propaganda such as the recent movie “God Is Not Dead,” which pits an atheist professor against a Christian student.
Coyne examined some of the class material FFRF uncovered and expertly took apart the unscientific claims, noting that most of what McMullen said on the topic was “completely wrong.”
"A teacher should be free to express opinions, however ill-informed, so long as he or she makes it clear that they are no more than his opinions. He should not be free to penalize students who fail to parrot his opinions,” Dawkins noted. “And if his opinions include Young Earth Creationism, my personal opinion is that he is no more qualified to teach history than a ‘flat earther’ is to teach geography or a proponent of the ‘stork theory’ is to teach reproductive physiology."
“What really disturbs us is the allegation that McMullen gives students extra credit for summing up his own views on religion! That’s not teaching, that’s preaching,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Coyne is the author of Why Evolution is True and Dawkins of such books as The Greatest Show on Earth and The Selfish Gene, as well as his international blockbuster The God Delusion. Coyne’s new book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, is due out in May. Both men are honorary directors of FFRF, a national state/church watchdog with more than 400 members in Georgia.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew L. Seidel headed the investigation.