Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mirecki resigns as department Chair

There's not much information out there, but Paul Mirecki has resigned his position as Chair of the University of Kansas' Department of Religious Studies. For those of you who aren't keeping score, Prof. Mirecki:

  1. Is faculty advisor for an atheist/agnostic student group at KU.
  2. Makes informal posts to a Yahoo! group created for that KU student group.
  3. Was planning to teach a spring semester course on Creationism/Intelligent Design as mythology.
  4. Sent a message to the student group plugging the course as something they might be interested in taking. That message mocked fundamentalists and stated they might not like the treatment of Creationism as mythology.
  5. Cancelled the class when the message was leaked and creationists in Kansas had a cow.
  6. Was beaten by two men early one morning; those men mentioned the course he was planning to teach.
You can read the AP news article from the title link above; you can read the KU press release (with link to resignation letter PDF) here. I personally don't see bugging Prof. Mirecki to find out anything more; his personal decisions are really none of my business. I do find the comment by his Chancellor that his emails to the student group were "repugnant and vile" troubling from an academic freedom point of view. I wonder if that Chancellor would say the same thing if Mirecki's comments were about atheism or a non-Christian religion. Mirecki's area is Religious Studies, and so his comments are relevant to his scholarship and shouldn't be subject to summary criticism by University officials without due process by Mirecki's peers.

Update: John Wilkins has a thoughtful post about this over at Evolving Thoughts.

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