Professor Paul Mirecki, at Kansas University, announced that he was going to run a course, entitled Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies.
He backed this up with an email to a list server in which he wrote:
The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category ‘mythology,’
Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P.(He used stronger language).
It seems to have become apparent that this was inappropriate behaviour for a university professor, and he wrote an apology and withdrew the course - recorded here on Telic Thoughts.
And then he got beaten up.
Having been the victim of the sort of violence that Mirecki experienced - perhaps not quite as serious (I only had one assailant), though apparently Mirecki will live, I know what an unpleasant experience this is. It left me close to a nervous breakdown and had a major impact on my behaviour (I am of a sensitive disposition). There is never justification for this sort of behaviour. Period. It is loutish, unpleasant, and completely inappropriate in a civilised society. If the people doing it were doing it "in defence of Christianity", they did more to damage the cause of Christianity than could be imagined - look at this gathering of responses. He'd already apologised, for goodness' sake!
However, when I was beaten up, it wasn't because I had insulted anybody. It was just casual violence from a tanked-up local when I was a convenient student "target". If Mirecki had slagged off a local football team, it would hardly have been surprising had a couple of the fans caused him trouble. And yet, Christians are regarded as "fair game" today. They can be insulted, the things they hold holy can be derided, or mocked in art, they can be referred to as stupid, ignorant, evil child abusers simply because of their beliefs, and they are expected to put up with it. When they are seen to react (and I would point out again that this violent response was not a response from people who were acting in accordance with Christ's teaching), people say, "Aha! Now we see the fundamentalists' true colours coming out! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!" Anybody who made this sort of remark about Muslims would probably have a Fatwa issued against them; when a play that was regarded as "anti-Sikh" was put on in Birmingham, it caused riots. Just about anything that might be considered part of our Christian heritage is being "concealed" with more politically correct labels to make sure that nobody from any other faith could be offended. But one minor act of violence - unacceptable as it was - and all "Christian fundamentalists" are immediately classed as opponents of freedom of speech and tolerance. Hey, hang on! I didn't do this!
But this shouldn't come as a surprise. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and say all manner of evil things about you." Opposition to Christian ideas isn't something new - because people are opposed to the Christian God. In "Rattle and Hum", Bono said in response to money-grabbing tele-evangelists, "The God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister." And neither does the God I believe in lack the ability to deal with people who wish to "break his chains".