Dr. Haarsma on the other hand as head of a religious non-profit is not bound by such limitations. She can proclaim that God created the multiverse and she is protected as free speech. She is free to proclaim and I am free to bash her, mock her, challenge her. But I will fight for her right to say it freely and at the same time criticize it. Dr. Swamidass, as hopefully tenured Professor at a secular, government funded institution, has no such rights. As condition for his position (and funding) he gives up that right. He still has the right of religious expression privately but in no way can as a Government official show any preference of one religion over another and any preference of religion over non-religion. He must remain neutral.
Might I remind you that teachers are expected to remain politically neutral as well: a rule which is honored more in the breach than in the observance, as you well know. These days, professors who are neutral about President Trump are about as rare as leprechauns.
In any case, university students aren’t kids. They’re adults. There’s nothing to stop a professor from saying to students who happen to raise the subject of religion in class: “Personally, I happen to be a churchgoing Christian. Of course, students of all faiths and none are welcome at this university, and in this course. If you want to ask me about my personal beliefs, see me after the lesson.” That’s how we’d handle it in Australia, which is where I’m from. I can’t see the problem with that.
I might add that the right of free speech applies to all Americans, as per the First Amendment. No law can stop a professor from espousing and defending Christian beliefs on his own blog.
When I was doing Philosophy A01 at the Australian National University back in 1981, we had a visiting American professor who taught a course about the philosophy of mind. He was quite strident in his espousal of materialism and atheism. None of us got up and said, “You have no right to push your views on us.” That would have been childish. As the saying goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If it’s OK for an atheist professor to defend materialism, why isn’t it OK for a Christian professor to defend theism?
On a personal note, I might relate that I visited the U.S.A. in 1994/95. I spent three months Greyhounding it around the country, and managed to visit 34 states during that period. (I was able to buy a 1-month Greyhound bus pass for just $419 back in those days, but you can’t buy it in the States. You meet some funny people on Greyhound buses, let me tell you.)
Anyway, during my travels around America, I decided to look up my cousin, who’s a movie producer. She took me out to dinner at a restaurant. I can remember that at the end of the meal, the waiter asked her if she had enjoyed her meal. My cousin replied that she liked the main course, but wasn’t too impressed with the tiramisu. My jaw dropped: we’d never say that in Australia, as we wouldn’t want to hurt the waiter’s feelings. My cousin set me straight: “This is America. You can say whatever you like, EXCEPT ‘I’m going to kill the President.’ That gets you ten years in jail.”
That was 23 years ago. How times have changed. Nowadays, there are 101 opinions which instantly render you a “deplorable” if you express them, while posting a tweet showing the President in the crosshairs of a gun sight (as Chris Cillizza did recently) is defended as courageous, in certain quarters. Very sad.
You can say God Bless You to a person after they sneeze and some one will say that you are pushing your religion on them.
I wonder if the people who complain about remarks like that would complain if the person saying “God bless you” were a Sikh. Just saying.